Iran says it recovered data from captured U.S. drone

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The semiofficial Mehr news agency said Iran had reverse-engineered the aircraft and has begun using that knowledge to build a copy of the drone.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut who chairs the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said on “Fox News Sunday” that he views the reports with skepticism.

“There is a history here of Iranian bluster, particularly, now when they are on the defensive because of the economic sanctions against them.”

He acknowledged that it was “not good for the U.S. when the drone went down in Iran and not good when the Iranians grabbed it.” But the senator said he did not “have confidence at this point that they are really able to make a copy of it.”

Iran has gone a long way in reverse-engineering some key technologies in the past three decades, particularly in the areas of nuclear and missile technology.

Iran’s famous Shahab-3 missile, first displayed in 1998, is believed to be based on North Korea’s Nodong-1 design. Iran obtained its first centrifuge from Pakistan in 1986 and later reverse-engineered it to develop its now advanced uranium-enrichment program.

Centrifuges, which purify uranium gas, are the central component of a process that can make fuel for power plants or — at higher levels of processing — weapons.

However, unlike the situation with the drone, the Iranian government usually touts these achievements as the result of an indigenous, home-grown research.

One area where there is concern is whether Iran or other states could reverse-engineer the chemical composition of the drone’s radar-deflecting paint or the aircraft’s sophisticated optics technology that allows operators to positively identify terror suspects from tens of thousands of feet in the air.

How much data there is on the drone is another question. Some surveillance technologies allow video to stream through to operators on the ground but do not store much collected data. If they do, it is encrypted.

Media reports claimed this week that Russia and China have asked Tehran to provide them with information on the drone, but Iran’s Defense Ministry denied that.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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