Iran claims to have captured US drone

The third incident between the U.S. and Iran in two years over unmanned aircrafts shows tensions are still sky high

Published December 4, 2012 12:00PM (EST)


Another dispute has arisen between Iran an the U.S. over a drone. Last month Iran shot at, but missed, a U.S. unmanned aircraft, which Tehran claims was flying in Iranian airspace, while the U.S. insists that the drone was in international territory. On Tuesday, Tehran claimed via state media to have captured a U.S. drone flying over the country's airspace. And once again, the U.S. line is different: a spokesman for U.S. Naval Forces said no drone had gone missing in the region.

Although neither the American nor the Iranian side of the story can be verified, the A.P. reported that Al-Alam, Iran's state Arabic-language channel, showed two Revolutionary Guard commanders examining what appeared to be an intact Scan Eagle drone:

In the footage, the two men then point to a huge map of the Persian Gulf in the background, showing the drone's alleged path of entry into Iranian airspace.

"We shall trample on the U.S.," was printed over the map, next to the Guard's coat-of-arms.

If true, the seizure of the drone would be the third reported incident involving Iran and U.S. drones in the past two years.

However, the footage does little to prove that the drone featured is the U.S. drone Tehran claims to have captured and, as Reuters noted, "the IRGC statement did not specify when or where the drone was caught, or whether the unmanned spy plane was shot down or crashed."

Following the November drone incident, the U.S. told Iran (via the Swiss protective power) that surveillance drones will continue to conduct surveillance flights from international airspace in the area. Meanwhile, an Iranian official asserted the country's right to defend itself from aircraft that violate its airspace. Reuters reported that Tuesday's claim from Tehran "highlighted tensions in the Gulf,"  noting that "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."

By Natasha Lennard

Natasha Lennard is an assistant news editor at Salon, covering non-electoral politics, general news and rabble-rousing. Follow her on Twitter @natashalennard, email

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Drone Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Tehran U.s. Navy U.s. Military