‘Drone row suggests US stepping up Iran watch’

The drone program indicates that US believes covert action & economic pressure may be the only means of pressing Iran.

Last Updated: Dec 08, 2011, 23:29 PM IST

Washington: Revelations about a US
reconnaissance drone which crashed in Iran last week suggest
Washington is stepping up surveillance and pressure on the
Islamic republic over its nuclear program, media reports say.

The New York Times reported today that the unmanned
stealth drone was part of a surveillance program that has
frequently sent the hard-to-detect aircraft into Iran to map
suspected nuclear sites.

Citing foreign officials and American experts who have
been briefed on the effort, the Times said the drone was part
of the most secret of many intelligence-collection efforts
against Iran, but that the crash effectively blew the
program`s cover.

The Washington Post said the drone program indicates that
US officials believe covert action and economic pressure may
be the only means of pressing Iran to abandon its nuclear
ambitions.

Citing current and former US officials, the Post said the
administration`s strategy includes expanded use of
remote-controlled stealth aircraft, such as the one that came
down in eastern Iran last week.

The report said the effort also includes stepped up sales
of bunker-busting munitions, fighter jets and other military
hardware to Gulf states as well as Israel to counter a
potential threat from Iran.

The officials told the Post the new strategy suggests
Washington is losing patience with efforts to negotiate a deal
with Tehran to halt its nuclear program suspected of being
used to create weapons.

PTI