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Iran Claims It Captured Drone, U.S. Denies It

Published: December 5, 2012 (Issue # 1738)


TEHRAN, Iran — Iran claimed Tuesday it had captured a U.S. drone after it entered Iranian airspace over the Persian Gulf — even showing an image of a purportedly downed craft on state TV — but the U.S. Navy said all its unmanned aircraft in the region were “fully accounted for.”

The conflicting accounts still leave the possibility that the drone claimed by Iran, a Boeing-designed ScanEagle, could have been plucked from the sea in the past and unveiled for maximum effect following escalating tensions over U.S. surveillance missions in the Gulf.

Other countries in the region — such as the United Arab Emirates — also have ScanEagle drones in their fleets.

Commander Jason Salata, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet in Bahrain, said ScanEagles operated by the Navy “have been lost into the water” over the years, but there is no “record of that occurring most recently.”

The Iranian announcement did not give details on the time or location of the claimed drone capture.

It’s certain, however, to be portrayed by Tehran as another bold challenge to U.S. reconnaissance efforts in the region. Last month, the Pentagon said a drone came under Iranian fire in the Gulf but was not harmed. A year ago, Iran managed to bring down an unmanned CIA spy drone possibly coming from Afghanistan.

Iran also has recently alleged repeated airspace violations by U.S. drones, which Washington denies.

“The U.S. Navy has fully accounted for all unmanned air vehicles operating in the Middle East region,” said Salata. “Our operations in the Gulf are confined to internationally recognized waters and airspace.”

Iran claimed it captured the drone after it entered Iranian airspace. A report on state TV quoted the navy chief of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard, General Ali Fadavi, as saying the Iranian forces caught the “intruding” drone, which had apparently taken off from a U.S. aircraft carrier.

“The U.S. drone, which was conducting a reconnaissance flight and gathering data over the Persian Gulf in the past few days, was captured by the Guard’s navy air defense unit as soon as it entered Iranian airspace,” Fadavi said. “Such drones usually take off from large warships.”

Al-Alam, the Iranian state TV’s Arabic-language channel, showed two Guard commanders examining what appeared to be an intact ScanEagle drone. It was not immediately clear if that was the same drone Iran claimed to have captured.

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 in Farsi and English next to the Guard’s emblem.

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





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous’ in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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