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Iran Warns to Give Tougher Response to Airspace Violations by US.

Summary: TEHRAN (FNA)- The US drone shooed away by Iranian fighter jets earlier this month was on an intelligence gathering mission near Iran's Kharg Island, the IRGC's Air Defense Commander said, and warned that the Iranian jets only fired warning shots in the incident, but will "give a harsher response" to hostile aircraft next time.

Speaking to reporters here in Tehran on Sunday, Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Forces Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said, "The US spy drone had entered the Iranian airspace above the southern coasts of the Bushehr province and was faced with the timely reaction of IRGC fighter jets."

"According to reports by Americans, this (type of) aircraft is tasked with intelligence gathering, or in other words spying, missions," he said, adding that the US Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was an NQ1 drone.

Brigadier General Hajizadeh also noted that the aircraft was gathering intelligence on Kharg Island and voyage of oil tankers in there.

"These aircraft had violated the Flight Information Region (FIR) (of the Islamic Republic in the Persian Gulf) before and we had warned them, but this time the warning was much harsher," he continued.

"We do not ignore our national interests and if the enemy crosses our red-lines and this incident is repeated, we will deal with it more harshly," Brigadier General Hajizadeh said.

"We fired warning shots and if they do not pay attention, they may be confronted with harsher actions and responses," he said.

The commander rejected the western media speculation that Iran, similar to the US, withdrew the information about the incident from the media in a bid to avoid negative impacts of such a military confrontation on the reelection of the US president, Barack Obama, in this week's presidential campaign.

"If we had the aircraft's wreckage, we would have publicized the incident, but we acted upon our duty and whatever we do, we also have the courage to announce it," he said.

On Thursday the Pentagon reported that Iranian fighter jets had opened fire on a US drone over the Persian Gulf on November 1, but did not hit the aircraft.

According to the timeline provided by the Pentagon, two Iranian SU-25 "Frogfoot" aircraft intercepted the American drone at about 4:50 a.m. EST (0850 GMT) as it conducted a classified mission over Persian Gulf waters about 16 nautical miles off the Iranian coast.

In response, Iranian defense officials confirmed the military confrontation, but stressed that the US drone had violated the Iranian airspace.

Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Ahmad Vahidi confirmed the report on Friday, saying that the aircraft was shooed away by Iranian fighter jets.

"Last week an unidentified aircraft entered the airspace over Iran's territorial waters in the Persian Gulf, which was forced to flee due to the prompt, smart and decisive action of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Armed forces," Vahidi said in a statement released by the Iranian Defense Ministry.

He stressed that the incident and similar events in the past all indicate that "the Islamic Republic of Iran is vigilantly and precisely monitoring all moves and provides decisive, necessary and prompt response with efficient power" to any hostile move.

The Iranian defense minister further stated that Iran is pursuing the case at relevant international bodies using all available capacities.

The Pentagon report was given a wide coverage in the US media and sent gold prices high up in the world markets.

Pentagon spokesman George Little said the aircraft fired multiple rounds at the Predator drone and followed it for at least several miles as it moved farther away from Iranian airspace.

"We believe that they fired at least twice and made at least two passes," he said.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was quickly notified of the incident, as were members of Congress and the White House, Little added.

Political analysts believe that the Iranian fighters intended to just shoo away the American predator.

The United States also sent Iran a warning through diplomatic channels, saying it would defend its military assets and would keep sending aircraft on similar missions in the Persian Gulf.

"There is absolutely no precedence for this," Little said. "This is the first time that a (drone) has been fired upon to our knowledge by Iranian aircraft."

American officials said that the Iranian SU-25s were flown by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps as the IRGC is responsible for protecting security over the Persian Gulf.

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Publication:FARS News Agency
Geographic Code:0INDI
Date:Nov 11, 2012
Words:754
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