Senior Iranain official says Iran will soon be able to reproduce and upgrade the US RQ-170 Sentinel. Iran will reverse-engineer the US drone it captured on December 4, Iran’s Press TV quoted a senior Iranian official as saying Sunday.
Parviz Sorouri, member of the Majlis Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy, said that his country will “mass produce” the drones in the near future. He also said that the Iranian version would be “of higher quality” than the original RQ-170 Sentinel, according to the Press TV report.
Souriri added that decryption of the drone was in its final stages and that soon Iran would be in posession of confidential US information.
The advanced US drone was reportedly flying a mission over western Afghanistan when it entered Iranian airspace and was intercepted.
“After it entered the eastern parts of the country, this aircraft fell into the trap of our armed forces and was downed in Iran with minimum damage,” said Revolutionary Guards Commander Ali Hajizadehhe upon the drone’s capture December 4.
“With God’s help, we were able to bring down one of America’s most advanced planes… with minimal damage,” he told the semi-official FARS news agency.
Sourouri also claimed that Iran had developed advanced capabilities in countering electronic warfare, stating that that these contributed to the identification and distruption of the US electronic system.
Last Thursday Iran’s state television published pictures and a video of a drone the Iranian military claimed it had shot down with an American flag hanging from it.
The RQ-170 Sentinel, built by Lockheed Martin, was first employed by the US Air Force in December 2009. It has a full-motion video sensor that was used this year by US intelligence to monitor al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan ahead of the raid that killed him.
UAE Prime Minister Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
The prime minister of the United Arab Emirate (UAE) has ruled out the possibility that Iran’s nuclear program may include a covert military dimension.
"Iran is our neighbor. They are Muslim, and we lived next to each other for thousands and thousands of years. I don’t believe that Iran will develop a nuclear weapon,” Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said.
CNN quoted Al Maktoum as saying on Wednesday that “What can Iran do with a nuclear weapon? For example, will they hit Israel? How many Palestinians will die? And you think if Iran hits Israel, their cities will be safe?"
The US, Israel and their allies accuse Iran of pursuing a military nuclear program and have used this pretext to press the UN Security Council into impose four rounds of sanctions against Tehran.
On November 8, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) claimed in its latest report that Iran had engaged in activities related to developing nuclear weapons prior to 2003, adding that such activities “may still be ongoing.”
Iran dismissed the report as "unbalanced, unprofessional and prepared with political motivation and under political pressure by mostly the United States."
Tehran says that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a member of the IAEA, it has the right to acquire and develop atomic technology for peaceful purposes.
Whether it is just posturing or this time Iran feels it has little to lose, following a spate of mysterious explosions and a downed US attack drone (for those who can put 2 and 2 together), it seems that the oil-rich country is increasingly seeing war as the probable endspiel. YNet reports that Iran is "moving missiles to secret sites, Western officials tell British paper; earlier, Tehran residents reported to stockpile goods, fearing imminent strike. The commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards has ordered his forces to raise their operational readiness ahead of a possible war or strike on the country’s nuclear facilities, the Telegraph reported late Monday." The move is for now precautionary: "The British newspaper quoted Western intelligence sources as saying that Iran is repositioning ballistic missiles, explosives and troops into defensive positions, in order to offer a quick response in the case of an attack by Israel or the United States." And while all this is happening, Iran is busy shipping of the downed US drone to the highest regional bidder (with substantial reverse engineering skills).
Iranian Defense Minister General Ahmad Vahidi said Israel would be attacked with 150,000 missiles if it launches any military action against the Islamic Republic, the Iran Independent News Service reported Sunday.
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Speaking before 50,000 army volunteers in Bushehr, the minister said "Iran is not Iraq or Afghanistan, if the Americans make the mistake and attack Iran, we will show them how to fight,” adding “Israel has to be punished for what it has done to the Muslims in Palestine and Lebanon."
However, according to Iranian news outlets Vahidi did not specify if the missiles would be fired from Iran or other locations.
On Saturday a senior commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard said the country would target NATO’s missile defense shield in Turkey if the US or Israel attacks the Islamic Republic.
Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, head of the Guards’ aerospace division, was quoted by the semi-official Mehr news agency as saying the warning is part of a new defense strategy to counter what it sees as an increase in threats from the US and Israel.
The latest multipurpose nuclear aircraft-carrier The George Bush of the US Navy has been redeployed from the Persian Gulf to the Syrian shores. The ship is capable of carrying up to 70 aircraft, including 48 attack jets. The aircraft-carrier is escorted by a group of vessels which contains a destroyer.
In this connection, experts are giving both a pessimistic and comparatively moderate prospect of developments near the Syrian sea border. Maxim Minayev from the Russian analytical Centre of Political Situations says:
“This is preparation for a military operation against Syria. These activities are reminiscent of a similar initiative when a group of NATO vessels were concentrated near Libya. Washington wants to collect a maximum dividend from the series of revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa. With this aim in mind, Washington is likely to start a military intervention even without UN sanctions. Now we are witnessing the first stage of NATO naval contingents drawing up near the Syrian shorelines.”
Oleg Kulakov, an expert in Oriental studies from the Armed Forces University, is not inclined to feel too emotional about the situation.
“The reinforcement of the US aircraft-carrier fleet in the Mediterranean is more likely to be a threat. They are building up muscle in the region and this is undoubtedly an element of strong political intimidation. Military pressure is likely to be augmented by possible diplomatic demarche. However, all this does not mean direct military intervention.”
Meanwhile, whipping up tension around Syria is taking place along different lines as well. The day before The George Bush was redeployed near the Syrian coastline, the Al-Arabiya Saudi TV channel circulated a piece of news from the Russians Are Coming! set. It reported that three Russian Navy ships entered Syrian territorial waters. The TV channel referred to a source close to Syrian top authorities.
This news published by a Saudi newspaper was carried on by the Haaretz Israeli news source and a number of other regional media. The Russian Defence Ministry did not confirm this information in a conversation with The Voice of Russia.
However, there is a Russian naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus, so it is small wonder that Russian Navy ships could be seen there. That port is the only Russian military base abroad at present. The agreement on keeping Soviet facilities there was signed by the Syrian government 40 years ago. At present there are only 50 Russian Black Sea Fleet sailors there. They have three piers, a floating repair shop, a peripherals warehouse and some utility rooms.
During last year’s campaign against Somali pirates the Russian aircraft-carrier The Admiral Kuznetsov called at the base in Tartus. The crew of The Neustrashimy destroyer spent several days at the base before their return from the Gulf of Aden to the home port of Baltiysk. There is a plan to upgrade the base in Tartus, so that it could receive heavy ships after 2012.