Report By: Nina Rai
Tehran, Nov. 09, 2012:
In an obvious warning to America after an US surveillance drone was targeted by Iran’s warplanes last week, Tehran has made clear its intent to deal firmly with any further foreign violation of its airspace.
Fars news agency quoting General Massoud Jazayeri, a senior armed forces commander, stated on Friday: "The defenders of the Islamic Republic will respond decisively to any form of encroachment by air, sea or on the ground. If any foreign aircraft attempts to enter our airspace, our armed forces will deal with them," he added.
The senior Iranian commander did not refer to the drone episode directly. However, according to American officials, the US Predator drone was not over Iranian airspace when the latter nation’s warplanes opened multiple rounds of fire on it early this month. Reportedly, the American drone was not hit.
George Little, a Pentagon spokesman, said the unarmed drone was flying in international airspace over the Persian Gulf when it was targeted. According to Little, the unmanned drone was left intact and flew back safely to its base. "We believe that they fired at least twice and made at least two passes," he said.
The latest interception is not the first time that Tehran has fired at an unmanned US aircraft in the 33-year-old faceoff over the former’s controversial nuclear program. Last year, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard allegedly shot down a US drone for encroaching on its airspace.
As per the timeline provided by the Pentagon, two Iranian SU-25 "Frogfoot" aircraft intercepted the Predator drone at about 4:50 a.m. EST (0850 GMT) as it conducted a routine sortie. The classified surveillance mission was over gulf waters about 16 nautical miles off the Iranian coast.
After firing multiple rounds at the drone they followed it for several miles even as it flew farther away from Iranian airspace. Washington, meanwhile, has lodged a formal protest over the incident to the Iranian authorities through diplomatic channels, stating that it would defend its military assets and would keep sending aircraft on such surveillance missions.
Details of the incident have surfaced ahead of massive air-defense drills due to commence across various provinces in eastern Iran this week. The "Velayat 4" military drills are to be jointly held by the regular armed forces and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The joint forces will be testing new radar and surveillance equipment, inform Iranian military commanders.
Meanwhile, as per the latest reports, officials from Iran and the UN nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency will be meeting in Tehran on Dec. 13 in an attempt to restart stalled nuclear talks, the international agency announced today.
The United States says it would do anything to defend its military assets and would keep sending its aircrafts on such surveillance operations in the Middle East and regions close to Iran. At the same time it has always made clear its intent to take swift action to prevent spying on itself by other nations. So now when the shoe is in the other foot and Iran takes action to prevent spying on its territories, why should it be taken as a huge crime?
The recent action by Iranians looks to be pretty justifiable by any neutral observer. It is, after all, a nation which is upholding its sovereign right to protect itself against any intrusion by foreign drones. They too in their national interest have a right to not allow drones spying on them from far or nearby, potentially targeting and killing their citizens and destroying their assets.
The Predator is a highly sophisticated armed drone the US possesses. And if anyone thinks it has not been made combat-ready for firing at flying target, they are misinformed. Possibly, this specific drone had been unarmed and its purpose might have been to only provoke a reaction from the Iranians. And it did, in the form of a warning to the US drone to keep off its trajectory over Iranian airspace. If the Iranians wanted, they could have destroyed it. However, they did not. Why else do you think the Iranian pilots of two planes “missed” a flying target twice? The reason is simple—they really do not want a war.
It is hypocritical of the US government to give the impression that it’s legitimate for it to spy on another nation, while it is illegal for other nations to take precautionary measures and hit back. Would the US have not shot down an Iranian surveillance drone if it was flying an inch away from US airspace? Many commentators have even questioned why the Pentagon remained silent when US spy drones were shot down by Russia or China but is now making a huge noise out of Iran? Judgments need to be made by adopting the same yardsticks for every nation and not selectively.
Sources: Reuters/AP/Jerusalem Post
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