Iran says it has decoded data from captured CIA drone

TEHRAN (AP) — Iran‘s Revolutionary Guard on Monday said it has decoded all of the data from an advanced CIA spy drone captured last year.

The Guard’s aerospace chief, Gen. Ami Ali Hajizadeh, told state-run Press TV that the RQ-170 Sentinel craft had not carried out missions over nuclear facilities before it went down in December 2011 near the eastern border with Afghanistan.

Tehran previously said it had recovered information from the top-secret stealth aircraft, but Monday’s announcement suggests technicians may have broken encryptions.

“All data from the drone have been completely decoded. We know where it traveled step by step,” Gen. Hajizadeh was quoted as saying. “After decoding, our experts discovered that this drone had not carried out even a single nuclear mission over Iran.”

Gen. Hajizadeh said Iran had captured the drone and decoded its data without any assistance, including from its allies China and Russia. Iran has said it would reverse-engineer the drone and build its own version.

Last week, the Guard claimed it had captured another U.S. drone after it entered Iranian airspace over the Persian Gulf, showing an image of what it said was a Boeing-designed ScanEagle drone on state TV.

The Islamic Republic has been trumpeting its possession of the drones in an attempt to embarrass Washington over its alleged surveillance of Iran‘s disputed nuclear program.

Gen. Hajizadeh said Iran previously had acquired a ScanEagle drone and produced a copy of that, but he did not provide evidence to back up the claim.

Last month, Tehran claimed that a U.S. drone had violated its airspace. The Pentagon said an unmanned Predator aircraft had come under fire at least twice while flying over international waters but was not hit.

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