In a press conference with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, President Obama calmly explained that his Administration asked Iran nicely for their drone back. “We’ve asked for it back. We’ll see how the Iranians respond,” Obama said. He added that the matter was classified, but the acknowledgement that someone wrote a note to the Iranian Lost & Found seeking one RQ-170 Sentinel stealth plane basically confirms the capture of the drone, which appeared on Iranian TV last week.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton backed this up through a spokesman, saying that “We submitted a formal request for the return of our lost equipment…we do not expect them to comply.”
Iran also did some appeals about the drone in the past few days: they went to the UN Security Council.
Iran said Friday that it had formally complained to the United Nations Security Council about what it called the hostile and aggressive behavior of the United States in sending a sophisticated radar-evading spy drone over Iranian territory, one that Iran’s military said it had intercepted and captured last weekend.
The complaint, which appeared to have been made more for its propaganda value than for any Iranian hope of Security Council action, was announced a day after Iran showcased what it described as the captured drone on national television, as if it were a war trophy. Members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps were shown displaying a bat-winged aircraft on a platform bedecked with anti-American slogans and a mock American flag with skulls instead of stars.
The US is in a real bind here. The existence of the drone, now confirmed by the President, proves that they have engaged in at least covert intelligence operations inside Iranian air space. Given all of the other incidents alleged over the past several months, it’s simply unlikely that this ends with the drone. This includes the deployment of the Stuxnet worm to disable Iranian ballistic technology, the explosions at several missile sites and the assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists on the streets of Tehran.
In this country, the argument over the drone focuses on whether Iran will be able to reverse engineer the technology and sell it to China and Russia, or if they sought the help of those regional powers in order to bring down the drone in a cyber attack. Less discussed is how the existence of the drone confirmed the shadow war over Iran, and by extension the numerous shadow wars in which the US is engaged all over the world.