A key U.S. lawmaker denied on Tuesday Iran’s claims that its military brought down a U.S. drone last week, and said technical problems pulled the UAV from the sky and into Tehran’s hands.
“I will say without hesitation that this is not something that anyone had anything to do with coming down with, other than a technical problem,” U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers was quoted by AFP as having said.
He added, “There was a technical problem that was our problem, nobody else’s problem. I think there’s a lot of public relations going on.”
U.S. officials have previously admitted the bat-winged RQ-170 Sentinel, a stealth drone designed to evade radar for surveillance flights, was on a CIA mission when it went missing.
AFP noted that Tehran initially said it shot down the drone, but later claimed the Iranian military managed to hack into the plane's flight controls.
Rogers said that “it’s not a good day for the United States” when a hostile nation nabs a piece of high-tech intelligence hardware, but played down the potential impact of Tehran dismantling and analyzing the drone.
He said, “The good news is: While they’re spending time re-engineering, we will be spending time engineering, and that’s the biggest difference. They’re very proud that they’re going to re-engineer this, and I hope they spend five, six, seven, eight years doing that, that would be great, because we’ll be long past that.”
On Sunday, a senior commander from Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said that his country will not return the UAV, but also indicated willingness to reach a deal.
In remarks broadcast on Iranian statete levision, General Hossein Salami said the violation of Iranian airspace by the U.S. unmanned drone was a "hostile act."
"The U.S. can, however, compensate for this aggressive move by some correct [political] measures," Salami added.
“Obama is hoping that the Iranian government is in a Christmas mood because he has asked Tehran to send him his Christmas present. Iran mocks Obama who ‘begged' for [his] drone back,” chided the semi-official Fars News Agency.