by ore Middle East Affairs correspondent
IRAN has force-landed another American spy drone over its territory and, while experts begin to probe the machine to extract its programmes and data, the Islamic Republic is threatening to take international legal action against the United States for this blatant violation of their airspace.
Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi announced on Tuesday that a US spy drone had been captured by Iranian forces over the Persian Gulf upon its intrusion into Iranian airspace. The drone shown on Iranian TV this week is a US Boeing ScanEagle — a small, long endurance robot used by the US Navy for aerial reconnaissance. It can stay aloft for more than 20 hours, at a cruising speed of 60 knots. It is equipped with a stabilised turret system containing electro optical and infra-red cameras that can provide real time video feeds to operators in ground control stations within a range exceeding 100 km.
The lack of damage shows that the drone was not shot down but was electronically hooked and landed by the Iranian air defence teams.
Last year, the Iranian military grounded a US RQ-170 Sentinel spy drone while it was flying over the Iranian city of Kashmar, some 140 miles (225 km) from the Afghan border.
On 1st November two Iranian war-planes fired on an American Predator drone that had violated the Iranian airspace over the Persian Gulf. A week later the Iranian Air Force repelled another unidentified aircraft that entered the Iranian airspace.
The US Navy has denied losing any of its drones and some reports in the imperialist media suggest that the spy-craft may have been part of a number operated by the United Arab Emirates, one of America’s long-term lackeys in the region.
There’s no doubt that the Americans have long concentrated their spy operations in the Gulf on Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant and the Islamic Republic’s air defence systems. This is clearly in preparation for a possible air attack to take out Iran’s nuclear installations if the Islamic Republic refuses to abandon its nuclear research that the imperialists claim is part of a programme to develop atomic weapons.
Resorting to aerial and satellite reconnaissance and the targeting assassination of Iranian scientists shows that the imperialist intelligence agencies have failed to penetrate the cloak of secrecy that surrounds Iran’s nuclear efforts by conventional means.
But these efforts have been significantly stepped up over the past two months according to a report in the Wall Street Journal on Monday.
Citing unnamed American officials, the newspaper said the increased US surveillance of Bushehr has been conducted in part by US unmanned drones operating over the Gulf.
The increased US surveillance of Bushehr, on Iran’s south-western coast, has been conducted in part with the Pentagon’s fleet of drones operating over the Persian Gulf. The effort resulted in the interception of visual images and audio communications coming from the reactor complex, these officials claimed.
The Wall Street Journal report also revealed that the Americans are attempting to eavesdrop on phone calls made by the plant’s staff to get a better understanding of the activity taking place beneath Bushehr’s protective concrete igloo.
Tehran has formally complained to the United Nations about these repeated aerial espionage missions.