Tehran, Dec 14: A US drone captured by Iran is now the property of the Islamic republic, defence minister Ahmad Vahidi said on Tuesday, dismissing a request by US president Barack Obama for its return.
"The American espionage drone is now Iran's property, and our country will decide what steps to take regarding it," Vahidi was quoted as saying by ISNA news agency.
"Instead of apologizing to the Iranian nation, it (the United States) is brazenly asking for the drone back," Vahidi also said, according to another news agency, Mehr. Iran "will not back down from defending the nation or its interests ," Vahidi declared.
Obama on Monday acknowledged that Iran was holding the reconnaissance drone - a bat-winged RQ-170 Sentinel - by saying, "We've asked for it back. We'll see how the Iranians respond."
Iran last week displayed on state television what it said was the drone. A lawmaker said the Islamic republic was unlocking the aircraft's software and was going to reverseengineer the drone.
"It seems he (Obama) has forgotten that Iran's airspace was violated, spying operations were undertaken, international laws were violated and that Iran's internal affairs were interfered with," ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told his ergular media briefing.