Iran has officially complained to the UN about the entrance of a US drone “deep” into its eastern airspace of the country last week.
The CIA drone is said to be a part of a stepped-up watching programme that was due to map suspected nuclear sites, said foreign officials and American experts who have been briefed on the effort.
Before this week, the high-altitude flights from Afghanistan bases were the most secret efforts against Iran, but American officials refused to comment on it.
The crash of the spy aircraft occurred more than 140 miles from the border with Afghanistan revealed the existence of such a programme. According to a U.S anonymous source, the plane has crashed not because being shot down or computer-hacked by the Iranians but simply of a malfunction.
RQ-170 Sentinel, built by Lockheed Martin is a part of an aggressive intelligence collection programme aimed at Iran, according to officials.
President Obama’s National Security Adviser, Tom Donilon, has recently spoken about secret efforts by the United States to keep watch on Iran’s nuclear programme.
“We will continue to be vigilant,” Donilon said. “We will work aggressively to detect any new nuclear-related efforts by Iran. We will expose them and force Iran to place them under international inspections.”
Despite RQ-170, also known as the ‘Beast of Kandahar,’ is surrounded by many secrets, there’s no question of its value to the U.S. government.
“This is a big prize in terms of technology,” a senior U.S. military source said.
There are talks that the vehicle can appear to be the same aircraft that spied on Osama bin Laden during the Navy SEAL raid that led to his death in May.
The US officials refused to explain anything. However, some experts suggest that the drone’s capture would not give Iran any useful information about U.S. surveillance technology and techniques.
Trita Parsi, president of the National Iranian American Council in Washington, said the incident “add up to a very worrisome picture”.
He added that “the Iranians are absorbing all of these assassinations without seeing the pace of their nuclear program slow down to the extent it would be acceptable to the West.”
In November there were some talks out of Iran on whether an explosion look place in the city of Isfahan, which is also one of the major nuclear sites.
David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, assured that he examined that area and found no damages at the Isfahan nuclear site. However, he said, “it is credible there was an explosion, but not at the nuclear site.”
“We’re trying to figure out what actually happened,” he added. “Explosions are happening in Iran, and Iran is not making a big deal out of them. They are either calling them accidents or saying they didn’t happen, and therefore when these things continue to happen it could be because intelligence agencies are actually now playing sabotage.”
The American government accused Iran of arming and funding Iraqi militias who are responsible for attacking American troops in Iraq.
“Whether it’s due to technical difficulties, incompetence, or other reasons, some setbacks to Iran’s activities are welcome,” a U.S. official said which wished to stay anonymous. [Via Reuters, The Daily Mail and Aljazeera]