Iran Says U.S. Spy Drones Flew Over Its Nuclear Sites

Associated Press
Wednesday, February 16, 2005; 5:14 AM

TEHRAN, Iran - The United States has been flying spy drones over Iran's nuclear sites, Intelligence Minister Ali Yunesi said Wednesday, commenting for the first time on media reports of U.S. unmanned surveillance craft over Iran.

"Most of the shining objects that our people see over Iran's airspace are American spying equipment used to spy on Iran's nuclear and military facilities," the minister said.

His remarks to reporters backed up a report in Sunday's Washington Post that quoted unnamed U.S. officials as saying the drones have been flying over Iran for nearly a year to seek evidence of nuclear weapons programs.

"U.S. spying activities over Iranian airspace have been going since a long time ago," Yunesi said.

The Iranian air force was ordered in December to shoot down any unknown or suspicious flying objects in Iran's airspace. At the time, there were reports in Iranian newspapers that spying devices had been found in a pilotless planes that had been shot down.

"If any of the bright objects come close, they will definitely meet our fire. We possess the necessary equipment to confront them," Yunesi said.

Last month, Yunesi said that the United States had been conducting aerial surveillance, but he neither mentioned drones nor nuclear and military sites.

Iranian media has been gripped by a kind of "flying object" fever with dozens of reported sightings in recent weeks.

State-run media has reported numerous sightings of unknown objects flying over parts of Iran where nuclear facilities are located.