Iranian Lawmaker Claims Iran Shot Down U.S. Spy Plane

The unmanned aircraft was allegedly shot down near a nuclear facility

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Update: In response to claims in Iranian news outlets that the country's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps shot down a U.S. spy plane, a defense department spokesman tells The Atlantic Wire that if "if the report is true, it was not a DoD aircraft." Another U.S. official tells the Wire that "there's no truth" to the report. CNN is also reporting that "three U.S. officials said there was no indication or information that a U.S. drone was downed." The AP and Reuters picked up the story on Wednesday, identifying the Javan Online site where the report first appeared as the state TV-run Youth Journalists Club. The AP also provided additional context, noting that the long-secret Fordo uranium enrichment site is built 295 feet underneath a mountain and next to a military complex, and was only acknowledged by Iranian authorities after Western intelligence agencies identified it in 2009. Fars News Agency is now also running with the story, citing an unnamed "senior Iranian legislator" as confirming earlier reports. As commenter Quinterius points out below, other Iranian news outlets, including PressTV and the Tehran Times, are also reporting the news.

Original Post (July 19, 2011, 6:07 pm)

On the same day that Iran announced plans to upgrade centrifuges at its nuclear plants, the Iranian website Javan Online is quoting Iranian politician Ali Aqazadeh-Dafsari as saying the country's air defense units shot down an unmanned U.S. spy plane gathering intelligence near the Fordo nuclear facility outside Qom. The story has been picked up by the Mehr News Agency and other Iranian news outlets but not by other important sources such as the semi-official Fars News Agency, raising questions about whether the claim is coming from a single lawmaker or the Iranian authorities, broadly speaking.

Back in January, Iran claimed it had shot down two unmanned U.S. spy planes and reverse engineered the models but provided no timeframe or evidence, promising to display the downed aircraft at a later point. The U.S. military, for its part, said it hadn't received any reports of missing drones. In June, the Fars News Agency reported that Iran had shown Russian experts several U.S. drones that it had shot down over the Persian Gulf in recent years, including one plane allegedly downed in 2007. The public display promised by Iranian officials never came.

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