Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad AFP/Atta Kenare

The United States has denied an Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ claim that they downed a US spy drone, possibly part of the regime’s propaganda in the wake of mounting evidence pointing to a feverish race to develop a nuclear weapon.

“The U.S. Navy has fully accounted for all unmanned air vehicles (UAV) operating in the Middle East region. Our operations in the Gulf are confined to internationally recognized water and air space,” a spokesman for U.S. Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain told news agencies. “We have no record that we have lost any ScanEagles recently.”

Iran’s state-controlled media reported Tuesday morning that the Guards downed an American spy drone hours after reports that the United States stepped up spying on the Bushehr nuclear plant.

The Guards supposedly captured a ScanEagle drone over the Persian Gulf waters upon its intrusion into the Iranian airspace.

Guards Navy Commander Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi said, “Such drones are usually launched from large aircraft carriers.”

Iran’s frequent unsubstantiated claims of military power and downed unmanned US aircraft have increased markedly the past two years, simultaneous with a deteriorating economy hampered by sanctions.

Inflation is rampant, some commodities are scarce, and the Iranian currency has been sharply devalued, all of which have placed Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a worse political position.

He also has run into trouble with the ruling Muslim establishment, of which the Ayatollah is the final word on political as well as religious matters.

He has been called on the carpet by the parliament, and the regime’s denials of the erosion of the economy have raised questions among Iranian leaders whether his nuclear development program may be ruining the country.

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