Iran Displays Drone, Complains to UN

Iran said Thursday that it had hacked into the unmanned RQ-170 Sentinel US spy drone flying over eastern Iran and brought it down that way.

The Iranians have complained to the United Nations about the drone’s invasion of Iranian air space.

Aljazeera English has video:

The Iranians displayed the drone on Thursday, and it seemed in good condition. Washington fears that Iran will give Russia and China access to the weapon, allowing them to gain state of the art US spy technology.

The Jomhuri-i Islamii (Islamic Republic) newspaper, which is close to former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, asserted that the downing of the drone demonstrates that Ameica’s moon is “waning.” The editorial went ton to say (trans. USG Open Source Center):

‘In the news regarding the unmanned spy plane of America, the fact was also noted that its downing occurred with minor damage and that the plane is currently in Iran’s possession. This news has significant technical dimensions and consequences, which is highly worrisome for the Americans. The fact that Iran was able to take the plane out of the Americans’ control and take possession of it amounts to a scientific advancement for Iran. And the fact that such an important spoil (a spoil of war) is under Iran’s control without any significant damage also means that, if this spoil is studied from a scientific perspective, its worth will be twofold. As much as this is good news for us, it (proves to be significantly less so for) America.’

Iranian newspapers also took pride in the revelation that Washington had given up on an initial plan to get up a covert action team who would destroy the plane and keep its technology from falling into the hands of iran, China and Russia.

The US spies pretty intensively on Iran, and it is telling that US military personnel have never found any positive evidence of a nuclear weapons program (something that should consume enormous quantities of water and electricity).

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20 Responses

  1. “and it is telling that US military personnel have never found any positive evidence of a nuclear weapons program”

    This statement, with respects to Iran, is blatantly historically inaccurate. I respect this blog, but would appreciate it if more attention was paid to a balanced, accurate perspective, as opposed to blanket statements which whitewash recent history with the obvious goal of promoting your political perspective…Are you arguing that in fact, Iran is not pursuing a nuclear weapons program??

    • No evidence of a nuclear weopons program.

      Evidence of civilian entivhment program.

      Evidence of missile program

      No diversion of enriched uranium from civilian program. No indigenous plutonium signature. No known nuclear weapons facility. Nada.

      • I have to support Juan here.

        The drones have been overflying Iran for years, according to the accounts published. But they have never found anything illegal. We would have heard about it, if anything had been found. But we have not.

        It is a significant set-back for the war-mongers. Possibly fatal. This is a major issue. Years of oversight and they can’t find the least evidence. Plus the agents on the ground.

        Yet the supposedly damning IAEA report was not more than suggestive. It is not going to look good, if Israel does actually attack.

        • I wonder if this will let the Israeli warmongers think again about their easy strikes at iran’s nonexistent nukes.

    • Ummm… there is in fact no evidence of any nuclear weapons program in Iran, EVER. In 2009, in response to allegations that the IAEA was “hiding” the damning evidence on Iran, the IAEA stated quite clearly:

      With respect to a recent media report, the IAEA reiterates that it has no concrete proof that there is or has been a nuclear weapon programme in Iran.

      link to

    • Maybe Brian could be asked to serve out helpings of whatever yellowcake evidence he might have to show that “the Iranians have a nuclear weapons program,” and the intelligence estimates on what “they’ might be up to, in the broad, ever-less-honest, CIA analysis divisions kind of, you know, analysis, of real motives and ranked potentialities?

      “Everybody knows” is what I learned in math is called a “null set.”

      Don’t let the chickenhawks turn the discussion into a burden-of-proofery, where careful people are forced or suckered into trying to Prove The Negative because they are too nice to call the chickenhawks by their proper names.

      Maybe Brian is all for the kind of “balanced, accurate perspectives,” all free of “whitewash” or “eyewash,” that FOX News (and similar “outlets”) spews?

    • “….would appreciate it if more attention was paid to a balanced, accurate perspective…”

      would that be the same balanced accurate perspective that the Bush administration provided as justification for the war on Iraq ?

      Ray McGovern, a former CIA employee, says there is no evidence that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapons programme.
      link to

      Zionists want Iran crippled economically because they are principal providers of weapons to Hezbollah and Hamas in much the same way that the US is principal provider of weapons to Israel. Zionists want to expand Israel and this requires diminishing the military capability of those who might oppose this move.

      The sooner more people realise that getting their information from the likes of fox news is not the way to achieve ” a balanced, accurate perspective…”, the quicker the world might be able to concentrate on curtailing the real danger in the Middle East which is the current right wing government in Israel.

    • Every time Iran is made to appear as an evil foe I feel a prick in my heart: what could it be instead all these years had America not destroy a burgeoning democracy in 1953? Today’s vilification of Iran is reminiscent of the vilification of an elected prime minister of Iran almost six decades ago as a leftist leader needed to be deposed when in reality he was an ardent admirer of the Western values and leaderships. By destroying a legitimate system of governance of a regional leader America opened the door for counterproductive factors and forces to take its place: the theocracy that calls America ‘the great Satan’, the safe haven of extremism and terrorism in the region all would be almost impossible had Iran become a democratic power in the region and a natural ally of America. Hundreds of billions if not trillions of dollars of American taxpayers’ money were sucked up in this quagmire that was in essence America’s own making. The opportunity of making a win-win world and America being its trusted leader was long lost in the quick sand of chasing puppets, abusing power and doing quick-fixes.

      Then again a historic second chance appeared to transform an enemy into a partner in 2003 before the American leadership: a stunning most comprehensive proposal of peace and cooperation in the region offered to America by none other than Iran! How good can it get? That very proposal was kept hidden from the American public and trashed by the Bush administration. The American policymakers after invading Afghanistan and Iraq were hallucinating of a hegemonic power in the region. Why bother with Iran when America could do it all? What is mind- boggling is that who were the advisors at that time that lost their minds to fail to see how handy a friendly Iran could be — flanked by Iraq and Afghanistan — in America’s ‘war on terror’ and in achieving success in the region?

      Blunder after blunder! This world could have been an infinitely better place if we had learned from our own past!

  2. So not so long ago, we learned that our Infinitely Inventive MIC’s Drone Wars Networked Battlespace Force was hackable via what, a cell phone, link to ,to see what the drones were seeing, because apparently a War Force that is all about keeping the citizens who fund it from seeing any part of what the Troops and the Command Structure really do via TopSecretizing everything, could not bother to encrypt that video. And their “defense” was cost-too-much, get it, COST? and even more funny, that the Wogs would not have any way to really use that information, since they would have no idea what the dronies were looking at. Right. link to

    I wonder if “we the people” will ever find out, for real and true, whether the Evil Iranians actually were able to hack and take control of that Lockheed “We never forget who we’re working for (whoever pays us)” Martin love bug, or whether it’s just another example of the many failures of technomythology that preach how superior “our” arms and armaments are.

    And if some Iranian smarties were able to do it, I’m sure that will be turned into another casus belli, ‘cuz, ooooooooh, “they” might let the Rooskies or Chi-Coms look at the Secret Innards! Let’s see — send armed drones over another nation, get all pissed off when that nation’s defenders take one down, so let’s bomb the capital as an act of revenge. Sounds like John Bolton to me…

    Cartoon in “Playboy,” circa 1968: View over rice paddies, in the background a smoking F-4 nose-down in the mud, two irate young white male Air Force pilots with .45s drawn, slogging toward a “gook” rice farmer in a conical hat and breechclout, the “gook” holding up his hands in supplication and saying, “Oh no, sirs, it was not I that threw the rock that brought down your great screaming silver bird…”

    Don’t “we” just hate it when “they” play a different game, and refuse to just lie down and behave, or die, like good little Wogs? “We” know how to keep the “ass” in “Asymmetry,” all right. All this just has to make one Proud to Be an American. “We” sure know how to get our money’s worth, at least when it comes to buying mass quantities of Futility.

  3. A caller on the Diane Rehm show this morning on NPR said that the supposed drone being displayed by the Iranian government is an obvious mock-up. I would be interested in seeing a comment by someone with expertise in this area on what might be going– its odd that the U.S. has admitted that one of its drones is missing, and then the Iranians are showing off this device. Americans with expertise in this area seem to believe that Iran doesn’t have the technology to do what they said they did (bring it down by electronic interference, essentially “electronically hijacking” the drone)– but is it possible that they actually did manage that? That would explain why it the drone was recovered intact and seemingly perfect condition. And if they did, what are the implications to the CIA and US military? Why would the Iranian government show off the drone if it wasn’t the real thing (for domestic consumption, presumably– they would hardly be fooling the CIA and US military). Anyway, fascinating topic, I’d love to read more on this.

      • Thanks for the link. I looked over the weeks news reports, and it seems that at the beginning of the week, the mainline press was saying the drone crashed in Iran and that it was highly unlikely that the drone had been hacked because that is very difficult. But then an anonymous US official admitted that Iran had an intact drone, and then the Iranians showed it off, and most everyone agrees that its the real thing. So, the caller I heard on Friday on Diane Rehm show didn’t know what he was talking about when he claimed it was an obvious mock-up (one more caller to a radio show talking through his hat). I find this pretty amazing news, that the Iranians, or perhaps Russians in Iran, were able to hack the drone (I guess the preferred term for the device is UAV). Its intact, so there seems to be no other explanation of this event. So, what I’m interested in knowing is: what might the UN have to say about the invasion of a sovereign nations air space via a UAV? If the US can do it to Iran, can other nations do it to the US? And in view of rapid acceleration and proliferation of UAV technology, is it only a matter of time before Hammas is jamming Israeli UAV’s, and/or flying their own UAVs over Israel?

  4. Not sure consuming large amounts of water and electricity will be the best indicators of a nuclear weapons program. It’s going to be information that will be harder to come by, such as the level to which they are able to enrich uranium. How much of their well-advertised enrichment program is beyond the prying eyes of the IAEA? Hard to tell, which induces Israeli & Western paranoia.

    Then it’s a matter of weaponization — “right-sizing” a device for missile or bomb delivery. How much can usefully be done underground is open to question.

    • If you don’t think making a nuclear warhead would consume a lot of electricity and water (and therefore that the weapons facility would be fairly easily detected), you don’t know much about the subject.

  5. One problem with reactions from many of the people you hear commenting on this is simply how difficult it is for them to get their head around the idea that “those” people might possibly have the wherewithal to defeat such high-technology. Part of their thinking is biased by pride, part by bigotry; we could, I suppose, argue the proportions. Among those that think clearly there will be similar statements, meant to give talking point to their minions, but that’s just the way things work.

    DOD analyst I know works in this area, and while he does not discuss “double-dutch secret” matters, he got quite exercised on the matter of the Iranian nuclear program. It struck me how incensed he was with how the “Iranians are gaming the system.”

    Interesting statement that goes to the heart of this business, although in ways he, as with his peers, again cannot get his head around: Iran is trying to assert its prerogatives as a sovereign nation; the US is trying to intimidate them from exercising those same prerogatives for all sorts of reasons. The US and Iran are both gaming the system for their own purposes. There has been relatively little blood spilled, at least directly, which might be taken as a good thing.

    Prof Cole objectively sums up the status of what Iran is/is not doing, but that doesn’t get to their intentions. We can very rationally infer that Iran is indeed developing a deliverable weapon system to within a quarter screwdriver turn of completion, which is barely different than having the capability outright. But so what? Hillary notes all the chaos that’ll come from having nukes introduced to the region, never mind that Israel has already introduced them.

    There is no right and there is no wrong, but that a given country’s interests cannot be argued to be more righteous. As a visiting political scientist from Keppler 22, just waiting for a bus off this planet and noting the local games, this seems to be a situation that is fairly straightforward, while somewhat complex in its details. The US has a bigger PR challenge to keep the righteousness on its side, but it has always been good at that sort of thing. The Iranian’s are relatively clueless to the PR stuff, and they know that if they hope to maintain their own sovereignty they would be well-served to somehow gain a nuclear weapons capacity (at least practically speaking).

    People on Earth like to quote Thucydides about how (to paraphrase), “the strong do what they want and the weak do as they must.” I do believe there was a preceding clause, essentially, that “Fair and equitable deals can only be reached between equals, because….(see above)”. There’s a similar lesson here for any fair and lasting Israel/Palestinian peace, and conflicts in general.

  6. I think we can all be assured the drone is real and the US is now looking pretty stupid. I dont remember any UN agreements allowing the US to fly aircraft within Iranian airspace. I guess it would now be fair for Iran to fly drones into the US ?

    The only threat to world peace is that posed by Israel that has become a rogue state, an unauthorised nuclear power, and a violator of many many international agreements starting with unumerable UN resolutions that it continues to violate.

    The recent killing of childrn in Palestine by Israel has again lost them many friends. Israel is fast becoming isolated not just in their own region, but the entire world.

  7. Please help me understand what is going on. It appears we have critical US surveillance technology in Iranian hands for what reason. Is it to facilitate an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities or to gather evidence enabling us to persuade Istael not to attack those facilities. Either way US security interests have been compromised to benefit a country that neither signs the nuclear non-proliferation treaty nor desists from threatening Iran. Were I a high-ranking Iranisn defense official I would (A) use this to urge a priority effort not only to develop a nuclear capability but to press plans to do maximum damage to the US in the event of conflict, and (B) provide the Russians and/or Chinese with free access to the drone in return for a nice weapons deal.

    Or how about an agreement with the Cubans permitting such technology to send drones over the US?

    Dumb-ass arrogance, folks. Dumb-ass arrogance.

  8. I think the drone simply defected to the other side. Promised a clean hangar, a bevy of female drones, and an unlimited supply of jet fuel, it just did what many another red-blooded piece of smart technology would have done.

    • Oh come now, that really is stretching the imagination a bit far. No ” red-blooded piece of smart technology” would defect to a country where it is impossible to receive fox news !

  9. Personally, I think its all hogwash. The drone was meant to be captured. Its all propaganda.

    Alternatively, it could be a true story – incompetent solider boys at the wheel turned over a windfall spying machine. Without a Press, and having been exposed to a sea of lies over the last 20 years, who can believe anything these days?

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