Iran appears to have declined the White House's formal request to return the surveillance drone it recently captured. But even if Iran retains the high-tech drone, experts are dubious about how much Iran can learn from it.
The semi-official Iran Students' News Agency reported today that Iran considers the RQ-170 "Beast of Kandahar" drone "Iran's property," according to Iranian Foreign Minister Gen. Ahmad Vahidi. "The US spy drone is the Islamic Republic of Iran's possession and our country will decide what to do in this regard," he said, according to Christian Science Monitor.
Obama wouldn't comment on what the Iranians might learn from studying the downed aircraft. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said it's difficult to know "just frankly how much they're going to be able to get from having obtained those parts."
Former Vice President Dick Cheney on Tuesday called the downing of the drone "a significant intelligence loss."
"For us to go in and take out the drone that crashed, I think, would have been a fairly simple operation," he said on CBS's "The Early Show." But Cheney said the administration "basically limited itself to saying please give it back." Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Panetta said they're not optimistic about getting the drone back because of recent Iranian behavior that Clinton said indicated "that the path that Iran seems to be going down is a dangerous one for themselves and the region", says Washington Post.
Standing beside Clinton, Hague agreed.
"We're not giving up on engagement with Iran, but on a number of occasions Iran has behaved in a way in recent weeks and months which has intensified confrontation with the rest of the world," he said. "We have seen an increasing predilection for dangerous and illegal adventures on the part of at least parts of the Iranian regime."
Clinton and Hague referred to the storming of British diplomatic compounds in Tehran, allegations that Iran tried to arrange the assassination of the Saudi ambassador to the United States, Iran's ongoing support for militant groups and its continued defiance of demands to prove its nuclear program is peaceful, informs TIME.