TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A senior Iranian lawmaker says Tehran can now manufacture a copy of an advanced CIA spy drone captured last year.
The news came as the UN called for the country to open up its nuclear sites to inspectors as a means of defusing tension.
Avaz Heidarpour, who sits on parliament’s national security committee, says experts have reverse-engineered the RQ-170 Sentinel craft and Iran now is capable of launching a production line for the unmanned aircraft.
His remarks were posted on the parliament’s website, icana.ir, on Wednesday.
Iranian officials frequently announce technological and military breakthroughs, most of which are impossible to confirm independently.
Heidarpour’s comment comes two days after Iran’s Revolutionary Guard said it decoded all data from the drone that went down in December 2011 near Iran’s eastern border with Afghanistan.
Last week, the Guard claimed it captured another U.S. drone after it entered Iranian airspace over the Persian Gulf.
As tensions between Iran and the West continue to rise, the UN has set out to seek nuclear openness with Tehran. A senior official of the UN nuclear agency says his team is “ready to go” to Parchin, an Iranian site it suspects could have been used for developing atomic arms, just as soon as Tehran gives the green light for a visit.
Herman Nackaerts of the International Atomic Energy Agency also signaled impatience with Iran’s refusal to meet IAEA requests for information on such alleged experiments, telling reporters that talks on how to go about that have “been under negotiations for almost one year.”
Iran has repeatedly stated it does not want to acquire atomic arms.
Nackaerts spoke Wednesday ahead of a trip of his IAEA team to Tehran. There, they will push IAEA requests for access to information, officials and sites the agency thinks may have been used for weapons work.