Iran says it is getting close to cracking the technological secrets of a US drone that came down in its territory.
Since early this month, the unmanned spy plane has been shown on state television amid claims of a US incursion.
Not so says Washington with the president keen to get his drone back. “We have asked for it back. We’ll see how the Iranians respond,” said Barack Obama.
For its part, Tehran says Washington should apologise for carrying out surveillance. Its foreign ministry spokesman accused the United States of violating Iranian air space. “A spying operation has been conducted and international law trampled on,” said Ramin Mehmanparast.
Some military security experts believe the Iranians lack the know-how to examine the drone and have sought to downplay the incident as a PR coup.
Military expert Loren Thompson from the Lexington Institute said: “By themselves, the Iranians would have great difficulty unlocking the secrets of this aircraft because of encryption, so they may bring in the Chinese or Russians.”
Whatever the truth about its purpose, the episode could be a serious setback for what has been an escalating surveillance programme, aimed largely at Iran’s nuclear facilities.
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