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Iran rejects request to return U.S. drone

  |   Dec. 13, 2011 at 11:02 PM
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TEHRAN, Dec. 13 (UPI) -- An Iranian lawmaker said Tuesday the country had no intention of returning a U.S. spy drone Tehran says it brought down in northern Iran Dec. 4.

Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of the Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, also said the United States must compensate Iran because the RQ-170 Sentinel spy drone violated that country's airspace, Iran's Press TV reported.

"[U.S. President Barack] Obama is ignoring the fact that a spy drone has violated Iran's airspace and according to international law, this is a violation," Boroujerdi said.

Boroujerdi said the United States must "pay compensation for the violating [of] Iran's airspace" and apologize to the Islamic Republic.

His comments came a day after Obama acknowledged for the first time a U.S. drone was in Iranian hands and said Washington wanted it back.

"We've asked for it back -- we'll see how the Iranians respond," Obama said at a White House news briefing with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Obama would not elaborate on why the remote-controlled spy aircraft fitted with reconnaissance equipment did not return to its base in neighboring Afghanistan.

Press TV reported the Iranian army's electronic warfare unit landed the spy drone "with minimal damage" Dec. 4 after it was flying over the northeastern Iran city of Kashmar, about 140 miles from the Afghan border.

U.S. officials have attributed the drone's loss to a technical malfunction.

Meanwhile, Afghan Deputy Defense Minister Homayoun Fawzi said Tuesday at a Tehran meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi that Kabul would never let anyone use Afghanistan as a base from which Iran could be attacked, Iran's Fars News Agency reported.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran is one of our good friends and we will not allow any threat to Iran from Afghanistan's soil," Fawzi said.

U.S. officials have said the bat-winged RQ-170 Sentinel aircraft was part of an intensified effort to monitor suspect nuclear sites in Iran, The New York Times reported.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said separately Monday Washington made a formal request to Tehran that the drone be returned.

"Given Iran's behavior to date, we do not expect them to comply," she said.

Tehran last week lodged a formal complaint with the U.N. Security Council alleging the drone violation of Iranian airspace amounted to a U.S. "invasion."

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