Capture of US drone further damages US-Iran relations.
Earlier this month, an unmanned reconnaissance plane which reportedly belonged to the US crash landed in Iran. On Thursday the Iranian press released video and photographic evidence of the fact that they had captured a foreign drone and were claiming that it was sent to Iran by the US to spy on Iran and gather secret information. This was later confirmed by the US who admitted that they had lost a drone and that this was the drone that belonged to them.
The US say that the drone went down due to a mechanical malfunction and was not shot down by Iranian forces, however this claim is denied by the Iranian forces who say that they brought it down. General Ami Ali Hajizadeh who is chief of the Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace division says that “it was downed through a joint operation by the Guards and Iran’s regular army,” and that it was attacked by an electronic ambush which caused minimal damage.
While giving a press conference about the US withdrawal from Iraq , Barack Obama publicly asked the Iranian government to give back the drone but unsurprisingly Iran has refused to give it back.
There are three main reasons why Iran will not give the drone back to the US: Firstly as they see it as an act of hostility they are refusing to give back equipment which was used to spy on Iran. They also are keeping it as proof that the CIA-run drone was flying over Iran. Lastly, the Iranian government have recently stated that they are not going to return it as they intend to retrieve as much vital information as possible from the downed drone.
The Deputy General of the Iranian military, General Hossein Salami, promised that they would not return the drone and said that, “no nation welcomes other countries’ spy drones in its territory, and no one sends back the spying equipment and its information back to the country of origin.” Salami also condemned the actions of the US and called it an act of “invasion and belligerence”.
The Iranian government have also contacted the United Nations and placed a formal complaint against the US over the presence of a US drone in their airspace without the permission of the Iranian government. Iran has called on the UN to condemn the actions of the US, and the Iranian Foreign Ministry have stated that the actions of the US were “provocative and covert” and claim that such actions by the US have increased recently.
The Iranian Ambassador to the UN, Mohammed Khazaei, wrote a letter to the UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon. In this letter Khazaei added that Tehran expects the UN to take an impartial stance and condemn the violation of any countries’ airspace by any other country. He also stated that, “my government emphasizes the obvious and provocative violation of the US government is a hostile move and in evident contradiction to international law, particularly the basic principles of the UN charter”. Khazaei also warned against any repeated attempts to spy on Iran and said that, “the Islamic Republic of Iran stresses that defending its territory is its legal right and the aggressive county would be responsible for the consequences of repetition of such actions”. The US-Iran relations are already tense because the US are concerned about the Iranian nuclear program and suspect that they are manufacturing nuclear weapons. However Iran has disputed this claim and said that their nuclear program is for peaceful purposes such as using nuclear power as an energy source.
Now that the Iranian government have possession of the US drone they have stated that they will try and gain as much vital information from it as possible. At first the US government said that they were not worried about the possibility of Iran gaining information from the drone or using it to manufacture a replica. However it was reported yesterday on Iran state owned television that the government are claiming that they have nearly extracted all the information they need from the drone. Parviz Sorouri, who is an Iranian lawyer and also a member of the Iranian Parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee, has said that the government have nearly extracted enough vital information needed to bring a lawsuit against the US over the invasion, which they say breaks international law.
However it is unlikely that the UN will be able to condemn or punish the US as they are a permanent member of the UN Security Council and can veto any decision concerning international disputes.
It is possible that the Iranian government and military have the technology to make a replica drone which could increase the use of drones internationally and also increase the number of countries who have drones in operation. According to the Iranian newspaper, the Tehran Times, Russia and China have asked permission to view the captured drone, although whether or not Iran will let them has neither been denied nor confirmed. According to the Wall Street Journal, US officials considered conducting a covert mission inside Iran to retrieve or destroy the stealth drone but ultimately concluded such a secret operation was not worth the risk of provoking a more explosive clash with Tehran.
This is not the first time this year that the US have sent drones to another state or undermined the sovereignty of another state. The same model of drone was used for reconnaissance missions before the US attacked Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan in May. Pakistan also accused the US of breaking international law and undermining their sovereignty as the US had not asked the Pakistani government for permission to launch a military attack within their country. Pakistan did not know about the plans to attack the compound until after it had happened and Bin Laden was dead.
Posted on December 13, 2011, in Foreign Affairs, US Politics and tagged Ahmadinejad, Arab Spring, Ban Ki-Moon, Barack Obama, china, International law, iran, Middle East, peter dunne, Russia, Sovereignty, Tehran, united nations, UNSC, US, US drone. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.