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Ahmadinejad: Iran has 'been able to control' U.S. drone

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 7:32 PM EST, Tue December 13, 2011
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The spy plane belongs to Iran, defense minister says
  • President Obama has asked Iran to return the drone
  • "There are people here who have been able to control this spy plane," the Iranian president tells VTV
  • U.S. officials have said that the missing drone was part of a CIA reconnaissance mission

(CNN) -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that his country has "been able to control" the U.S. drone that Iran claims it recently brought down, Venezuelan state TV reported.

"There are people here who have been able to control this spy plane," Ahmadinejad told VTV. "Those who have been in control of this spy plane surely will analyze the plane's system. Furthermore, the systems of Iran are so advanced also, like the system of this plane."

Ahmadinejad did not elaborate or specify what precisely he meant when he referred to people "who have been able to control" the drone. He spoke in Farsi, which VTV translated into Spanish. The Farsi portion of the interview was not audible.

President Barack Obama said Monday that the United States has asked Iran to return the drone aircraft that Iran claims it recently brought down in Iranian territory.

"We've asked for it back. We'll see how the Iranians respond," Obama said.

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Ahmadinejad's comments to VTV seemed to suggest that Iran did not plan to return the aircraft.

"The North Americans at best have decided to give us this spy plane," Ahmadinejad said. "In the unpiloted planes, we have had many advances, much progress and now we have this spy plane."

Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi said the drone no longer belongs to Washington.

"The U.S. spy plane is among the assets of the Islamic Republic of Iran," Vahidi told reporters Tuesday, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency. "Our country will decide what to do with it."

The United States owes Iran an apology and needs to admit its crime, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said Tuesday, the Iranian Students' News Agency report.

"The U.S. should know that what it did regarding violation of our air space can put international peace and security in danger," he said. "The U.S. should take responsibility for the consequences of the measure."

American officials have not confirmed that the drone shown in a video released last Thursday by Iranian media is a U.S. aircraft. But Pentagon spokesman George Little has said that an American drone is missing and had not been recovered.

Two U.S. officials have confirmed to CNN that the missing drone was part of a CIA reconnaissance mission that involved both the intelligence community and military personnel stationed in Afghanistan.

Iran's official Islamic Republic News Agency said the country's armed forces had downed the drone near Kashmar, some 225 kilometers (140 miles) from the border with Afghanistan on December 4.

The Ahmadinejad interview was aired in Venezuela Monday night.

Officials say the fall of this drone is not related to an incident Tuesday in which a U.S. drone crashed upon landing at an airport in Seychelles. For one thing, they seem to be two different kinds of drones -- the one over Iran was apparently a sophisticated stealth-type vehicle while the Seychelles one is of more conventional design.

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