Iran claims to have shot down Israeli spy drone

Stealth aircraft allegedly headed for Natanz nuclear enrichment site

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani (centre) visiting Iran’s defence capabilities exhibition in Tehran, Iran, today. Photograph: EPA/Iranian presidential official website

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani (centre) visiting Iran’s defence capabilities exhibition in Tehran, Iran, today. Photograph: EPA/Iranian presidential official website

 

Iran today said it had shot down an Israeli spy drone that was heading for its Natanz nuclear enrichment site.

“The downed aircraft was of the stealth, radar-evasive type and it intended to penetrate the off-limits nuclear area in Natanz . . . but was targeted by a ground-to-air missile before it managed to enter the area,” state news agency ISNA said, citing a statement by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

The Natanz facility is one issue at the heart of a long-running dispute between Iran and countries that believe it is seeking nuclear weapons capability, something Tehran denies.

Iran and six world powers are trying to negotiate an end to the standoff, which has led to economic sanctions being imposed on the Islamic Republic.

Israel, widely assumed to have the region’s only atomic arsenal, demands Iran be stripped of all nuclear technologies, something Tehran rules out and which most foreign diplomats deem unrealistic.

Iran has accused Israel and its allies in the West of assassinating its nuclear scientists and attacking its nuclear sites with computer viruses.

Israel declines comment on such accusations and its military today said it did not comment on foreign reports.

‘Black page’

If confirmed, an aircraft built by Israel’s state-owned Aerospace Industries known as the Heron, or the more powerful Heron TP, is likely to have been involved for such a long-range mission. Military commanders in Israel have described both as a possible means of monitoring Iran and other countries.

In March, pumps at Iran’s planned Arak reactor, seen by the West as a potential source of plutonium that could be used in nuclear bombs, were subjected to a failed sabotage attempt, a senior Iranian official said.

– (Reuters)