23 August 2011
Iran claims U.S. drone shot down over nuclear site in Qom
The Arab American News


TEHRAN Iran has shot down an unmanned U.S. spy plane that flew over its Fordu nuclear site, a state-run website reported Wednesday, a day after it confirmed it was installing a new generation of advanced uranium enrichment centrifuges.

"An unmanned U.S. spy plane flying over the holy city of Qom near the uranium enrichment Fordu site was shot down by the Revolutionary Guards' air defense units," MP Ali Aghazadeh Dafsari was quoted as saying by the Youth Journalists Club's website, affiliated to Iran's state TV.

Other state media did not carry out the report and Iranian officials were not available to comment.

"The plane was trying to collect information about the site's location," he said, without giving details. He did not say when the incident happened.

The Fordu site, secretly built inside a mountain bunker near Qom, was acknowledged by Iran only after Western intelligence agencies identified it in 2009.

The head of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards announced in January that the Guards had shot down two unmanned Western reconnaissance drone aircraft in the Persian Gulf.

The Pentagon denied that report but acknowledged that some spy planes had crashed in the past due to mechanical failure.

Iran is at odds with major powers over its nuclear work, which the United States and its allies say is intended to enable Iran to produce bombs. Iran denies the allegations and says it wants only to generate electricity.

The United States and Israel, Iran's arch enemies, have not ruled out military action if diplomacy efforts fail to end the row.

Iran has dismissed reports of possible U.S. or Israeli plans to strike Iran, warning that it will respond by attacking U.S. interests in the Gulf and Israel if any such assault were made.

Analysts say Tehran could retaliate by launching hit-and-run strikes in the Gulf and by closing the Strait of Hormuz. About 40 percent of all traded oil leaves the Gulf region through the strategic waterway.

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