Iran has politely declined the White House’s request to return its downed drone, and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said today that his people have been able to "control" the device. With this sophisticated technology in Iran’s hands, what does this mistake mean for the U.S.?
First of all, it’s unclear how intact the RQ-170 drone was after its crash. Some experts have questioned the authenticity of photos and video of the UAV, speculating that Iran may have “mocked up” the drone pictured above.
However, if Iran truly does have the drone -- and it is in working condition -- many fear that the hostile nation could learn much about U.S. spying strategies and technology. Even if Iran doesn't use this information itself, it could easily be sold to China or Russia -- or any other nation that might find it useful. If nothing else, the incident has embarrassingly revealed the underlying secrecy of expanded U.S. operations against Iran's nuclear and military programs.
Ahmadinejad is claiming that his country can learn a lot from the captured technology. Meanwhile, certain UAV experts doubt they will be able to glean its secrets.
More likely, Iran will simply use this incident for political posturing. Ahmadinejad took the opportunity to brag about his country's existing UAV knowledge and technology:
"There are people here who have been able to control this spy plane," Ahmadinejad told VTV. "Those who have been in control of this spy plane surely will analyze the plane's system. Furthermore, the systems of Iran are so advanced also, like the system of this plane."
After President Obama requested the drone be returned, state media jumped at the chance to mock the U.S. for being in the role of "the begger."
And what of the whole "spying" issue? Officially, the drone was conducting surveillance over Afghanistan, malfunctioned and crashed onto Iranian soil (140 miles from the Afghan border...). But Iran -- and, OK, certain Americans -- don't buy it. Now that the U.S. has its largest-ever fleet of UAVs, I wouldn't doubt for a second that we conduct surveillance on Iran, especially amid suspicions over their nuclear development program.
Iran isn't about to let the incident go: Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said the United States owes Iran an apology and needs to admit its crime.
Meanwhile, another U.S. drone reportedly crashed in Seychelles on Tuesday, causing this blogger to wonder who, exactly, is piloting these unmanned drones?