Iran ‘will arm Palestinians’ after Israeli drone downed

Tehran says unmanned aircraft was shot down as it approached a nuclear installation

Iran’s state TV broadcast footage showed a purported Israeli drone that the country’s Revolutionary Guard says it shot down near an Iranian nuclear site, as Tehran said it would retaliate by supplying weapons to Palestinians in the West Bank.

Arabic-language Al-Alam aired a brief video on Monday filmed in a desert area showing what the channel said were parts of the drone. A TV scroll said the drone was downed on Saturday.

There were no visible Israeli markings on it.

Tehran will “accelerate” arming Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in retaliation for Israel deploying the spy drone over Iran, a military commander said.

“We will accelerate the arming of the West Bank and we reserve the right to give any response,” said General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh, commander of aerial forces of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, in a statement on its official website,

In late July, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei published statements condemning Operation Protective Edge and saying that the West Bank should be armed like Gaza.

The more recent warning came a day after the Guards said they had brought down the Israeli “stealth drone” above the center of the country.

The Guards issued a statement on Sunday, saying its forces fired a missile at the drone as it neared Iran’s uranium enrichment facility in Natanz, some 240 kilometers (150 miles) south of the capital, Tehran.

The Israeli army has declined to comment on the matter.

The incident comes as Iran is negotiating with world powers over its controversial nuclear program.

Natanz is Iran’s main uranium enrichment site, housing more than 16,000 centrifuges. Around 3,000 more are at the Fordo plant, buried inside a mountain and hard to destroy.

Israel has often threatened to attack Iranian nuclear installations.

Iran and the P5+1 powers — Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany — reached a six-month interim agreement under which Iran suspended part of its nuclear activities in return for a partial lifting of international sanctions.

In July that deal was extended by four months until November 24 to give the two sides more time to negotiate a final accord aimed at ending 10 years of tensions over Iran’s nuclear program.

The sides remain split on how much uranium enrichment Iran should be allowed to carry out.

Washington wants Tehran to slash its program by three-quarters, but Iran wants to expand enrichment ten-fold by 2021, chiefly to produce fuel for its Bushehr nuclear power plant.

Israel, a sworn enemy of Iran, opposes any agreement allowing Tehran to keep part of its uranium enrichment program, saying Iran could use the material to make an atomic bomb.

Iran has consistently denied wanting to make nuclear weapons.

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