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August 24, 2014 5:33 pm
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards claimed on Sunday they had downed an Israeli drone that was allegedly trying to spy on a major nuclear site.
A statement by the guards said the drone was shot down with a ground-to-air missile before the unmanned aerial vehicle could “penetrate the off-limits nuclear space of Natanz”, the country’s main nuclear enrichment facility, located 300km south of Tehran.
The statement did not say when the incident took place and the guards have not published any images of the drone, which was described as “of the stealth, radar-evasive type”.
“This evil move further illustrated the adventurist manner of the Zionist regime and added another black page to this warmongering and fake regime’s records which are full of crimes and viciousness,” the statement said. “The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps along with other armed forces of the Islamic Republic are fully and firmly prepared to defend the nation and the Islamic lands of Iran while reserving their right to respond and retaliate.”
Israel’s government, which is deeply sceptical of the interim agreement between Tehran and world powers to limit Iran’s nuclear programme, has in the past accused Tehran of deceiving the international community and defying the UN in regard to its nuclear-related activities, including in its enrichment facilities at Natanz and Fordow. The latter is an underground nuclear site which is said to be immune from any military aggression.
An Israeli military spokeswoman declined to comment on what she called “foreign reports”.
Israeli military experts were surprised by the report because Israel does its visual surveillance of Iranian nuclear facilities via satellite and also because the country’s military establishment is currently primarily focused on the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
“A drone operation over Iran doesn’t happen just like that,” said Yiftah Shapir, director of the project on military balance at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. “I don’t see anyone in the Israeli defence establishment paying attention to anything other than Gaza – it hardly makes any sense.”
The downing of drones is not unprecedented in Iran. The guards captured a US Lockheed Martin Sentinel RQ-170 drone in 2011 and then claimed to have determined how it functioned, reverse-engineered it and showcased a functioning copy.
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