Fate of downed US drone up to Iran: FM
Updated: 2011-12-18 10:36
TEHRAN - Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi said Saturday that the fate of the downed US spy drone would be decided by Iran, rejecting again the US request for returning the drone.
Iran was presently in possession of the US drone, and the Iranian Supreme National Security Council was to decide about its fate, Salehi said in an exclusive interview with the official IRNA news agency.
Iranian media reported earlier this month that the Iranian military downed a RQ-170 stealth aircraft of the United States in the eastern Iran after finding it transgressing the eastern border. The country's state TV later showed the footage of the drone.
However, US officials denied that the drone was brought down by Iran, insisting that its fall was due to mechanical problems.
Salehi on Saturday dismissed claims that Iran had help from foreign countries to down the US spy drone, saying that whether or not the United States was willing to admit, Iranian armed forces themselves managed to make the advanced air vehicle to land with the slightest damage.
US President Barack Obama demanded Iran on Monday to hand back the drone, but Iran has rejected the request many times, insisting that the aircraft was "Iran's property."
Salehi also stressed that Iran would follow up the case of the US "invasion" of its airspace and would defend the rights of the nation.
Iran had already submitted a protest letter to the United Nations secretary general, the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation and the Non-Aligned Movement, said the foreign minister.
He also called on neighbor countries not to let the United States and its allies use their territories against Iran.
Iran has summoned the Afghan ambassador to Tehran to urge Kabul not to let its soil be used by US air vehicles against Iran, he said.