Iran says it captures drone; U.S. denies losing one

Tue Dec 4, 2012 3:15pm EST
 

By Yeganeh Torbati and Daniel Fineren

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran said on Tuesday it had captured a U.S. intelligence ScanEagle drone in its airspace over the Gulf in the last few days, but the United States said there was no evidence to support the assertion.

The U.S. Navy said had not lost any unmanned aircraft in the area. The four-foot (1.25 meter) surveillance drones built by Boeing Co are deployed in the region by the United States military and also by other countries.

In Washington, White House spokesman Jay Carney said: "We have no evidence that the Iranian claims are true."

The incident highlighted tensions in the Gulf as Iran and the United States demonstrate their military capabilities in the vital oil exporting region in a standoff over Iran's disputed nuclear program.

Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz - through which about 40 percent of the world's seaborne crude oil is shipped - if it comes under attack. U.S. commanders have said they will not let that happen.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps said on its website that the drone had been flying over the Gulf in the last few days and was "captured" when it strayed into Iranian airspace.

A spokesman for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain said none of its drones were missing.

"The U.S. Navy has fully accounted for all unmanned air vehicles (UAV) operating in the Middle East region. Our operations in the Gulf are confined to internationally recognized water and air space," Commander Jason Salata said.   Continued...

 
A general view of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, some 1,200 km (746 miles) south of Tehran October 26, 2010. REUTERS/IRNA/Mohammad Babaie