TEHRAN, Iran - Iran deliberately delayed its announcement that it had captured a surveillance drone to test U.S. reaction, the country's foreign minister said Saturday.
Ali Akbar Salehi said Tehran finally went public with its possession of the RQ-170 Sentinel stealth drone to disprove contradictory statements from U.S. officials.
Iran, which put the aircraft on display this month, has tried to trumpet the downing of the drone as a feat of Iran's military in a complicated intelligence battle. Tehran also has rejected a formal U.S. request to return the plane, calling its incursion an "invasion" and a "hostile act."
"When our armed forces nicely brought down the stealth American surveillance drone, we didn't announce it for several days to see what the other party says and to test their reaction," Salehi told the official IRNA news agency. "Days after Americans made contradictory statements, our friends at the armed forces put this drone on display."
Salehi said Iran's position is not to return the drone, but he didn't completely rule out the possibility of a deal.
"Any decision-making about this issue rests with the Supreme National Security Council," IRNA quoted Salehi as saying. The council is Iran's highest security decision-making body and handles the country's talks with the West over Iran's disputed nuclear program.