U.S. debated sending commandos into Iran to recover drone
Dec 7, 2011 – 9:09 PM ET | Last Updated: Dec 9, 2011 10:16 AM ET
REUTERS/Sepah News.ir/ Handout
A member of Iran's revolutionary guard pointing at the U.S. RQ-170 unmanned spy plane at an unknown location in Iran.
The U.S. considered sending in covert missions to Iran to recover a drone that crashed in the country, The Wall Street Journal reports.
The RQ-170 Sentinel, a high-altitude stealth drone known as the Beast of Kandahar, went down in Iran while on a surveillance mission. Iran said it shot the drone down, but the U.S. maintains it crashed due to a malfunction.
According to the Journal, U.S. officials considered sending in a commando team to recover the drone, sending in a team to blow it up or destroying the wreckage with an air strike.
Officials decided not to carry out the missions fearing it would be considered an act of war. It was hoped the drone had crashed in a remote part of Iran and therefore the remains would not be recovered.
A U.S. official said Wednesday that Iran would probably not be able to make use of the highly sophisticated technology found in the drone.
“U.S. capabilities are remarkably advanced, and it’s unclear that the Iranians have the expertise” to exploit the advanced know-how in the aircraft, the official said.
Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama was accused Wednesday of coddling Iran by Republican White House hopefuls.
Mr. Obama “has immeasurably set back the prospect of peace in the Middle East,” former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney told Republican Jewish activists holding a forum in Washington.
“Ultimately, regime change is what’s going to be necessary” in Iran, Mr. Romney said, who called for “covert and overt” efforts to support the opposition to leaders in Tehran.
Mr. Romney won cheers when he declared that Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad “should be indicted for the crime of incitement to genocide” over anti-Israel remarks.
He accused Mr. Obama of having called on Israel to “adopt indefensible borders,” having “insulted” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and being “timid and weak in the face of the existential threat that Israel faces from Iran.”
Mr. Obama said in May that Middle East peace will ultimately require Israel to exist alongside a Palestinian state, based on shared territorial lines from before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war but modified with “mutually agreed” land swaps.
Former senator Rick Santorum, a long shot for the party’s nomination, noted Wednesday was the 70th anniversary of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor and likened Mr. Obama to politicians who appeased Germany’s Adolf Hitler.
“For every thug and hooligan, for every radical Islamist, [Obama] has had nothing but appeasement,” said Mr. Santorum. “We saw that in the run up to World War II.”
Former U.S. envoy to China Jon Huntsman said “it is time for the world to understand that we stand with Israel.”
Agence France-Presse, with files from news services