US sends spy planes to 'sniff out' Iran's nuclear plants

American spy aircraft have been overflying Iran in an attempt to detect any sign that the country is closer to producing a nuclear weapon.

Unmanned drone surveillance aircraft have repeatedly flown over suspected Iranian nuclear sites carrying "sniffing" equipment, it emerged yesterday.

Their sophisticated sensors can identify the radioactive materials that Washington believes are being manufactured to give the country's religious leaders a nuclear arsenal.

Drones carrying radar, video, stills cameras and air filters have been launched from United States bases in neighbouring Iraq, the Washington Post reported.

The flights are also designed to test Iran's air defence radar and gain information for possible attacks by manned aircraft.

Iran unleashed another salvo in its war of words with the US over its nuclear plans yesterday. "They know our capabilities," said Hamid Reza Asefi, the foreign ministry spokesman. "We have clearly told the Europeans to tell the Americans not to play with fire."

Teheran had complained that the flights were illegal, using the Swiss to convey the message because America and Iran have no diplomatic ties, the newspaper said.

The surveillance flights have inspired stories in Iranian newspapers suggesting that the country was being visited by UFOs. Civilians have reported seeing red flashes in the night sky, low racing lights that appeared for a few seconds and lines of green and blue.

The Etemaad newspaper referred to "the presence of unidentified flying objects in the Bushehr sky on a number of occasions, particularly in recent weeks". Bushehr is the site of a large Iranian nuclear plant built by the Russians.

The Iranian space agency and a group of astronomers were summoned and the Iranians signed an agreement with Russian scientists keen to investigate the phenomenon, which Pravda described as "UFO mania".

But the riddle was eventually solved by Iranian air force officers who identified drones as the likely cause of the scare.

An Iranian official said: "It was clear to our air force that the entire intention was to get us to turn on our radar."

According to some US reports, a major effort is under way to identify targets to be destroyed in any all-out assault on Iran's bomb-making programme.

France, Britain and Germany, on behalf of the European Union, have been trying to persuade Iran to scrap potentially weapons-related activities in return for economic incentives.

Iran has said repeatedly that it will not give up plans to build a heavy-water reactor, which can be used to make weapons-grade material, in exchange for a light-water reactor offered by the Europeans, which is less useful for a weapons programme. "We will not under any circumstances replace our heavy-water research reactor," Mr Asefi said yesterday.

But he said there was a chance of a deal with the Europeans, describing the latest round of Iran-EU talks, in Geneva last Friday, as "deeper and more professional".

Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, said last week that Teheran must accept terms offered by the EU or be referred to the United Nations for possible sanctions.
I wonder when the US are going to realise that:

1. The Iranian's are not ignorant little savages who are going to meekly lie down and submit to 'white mens' magic' and flashing lights in the sky.

2. The recipe of Iran vs US vs UN vs Israel is not conducive to world peace.

3. Iran would be in a much better shape than it is currently, if the US hadn't already meddled with it.

4. There is a body of opinion about this whole thing that is not formed by, or with reference to, Capitol Hill or the Washington Times. This body of opinion is called 'the rest of the world'.

Although I do wonder why the Iranians are developing 'peaceful' nuclear energy when their country floats on trillions of tons of oil...
the US stance towards Iran could very well change now just as it did to North Korea, all 'were gonna come and open a can of whoopass' to 'lets talk about it', now Iran has said that they have the capability.
Iran has left the Stone age and no longer fights with sticks, which usually means that the US will now want to open diplomatic relations.
I just think that they spams have realised that figting wars is not a clean way to impose your wills on to another country. As such, they are more than willing to give it a go on the old diplomatic round-about, and should nothing happen then they will consider further options (including military action). I dont really blame them for being concerned about the Iranians getting a nuke. If they do, it will seriously impact on the power struggle in the middle east and will reck the (relative) stability of the middle east.

If that does happen, oil prices will rocket and the chances are we (along with most of the western world) will be faced with soaring bills and interest leading to a possible recession. Therefore it is probabbly in the interest of the whole world that Iran does not get the bomb (wether that is achieved through diplomatic channels or down the barrel of an M16 is another question 8O )

Agent_Smith said:
...But the riddle was eventually solved by Iranian air force officers who identified drones as the likely cause of the scare.

An Iranian official said: "It was clear to our air force that the entire intention was to get us to turn on our radar."...
If true, or even if the Iranians believe it to be true, that seems a more significant detail than simply high-level surveillance overflights.
This is classic USA air-war doctrine. Send in the unmanned drones first and try and make the baddies reveal their radar locations for future delivery of a H.A.R.M C/o uncle sam.

They have done/ are still doing this in North Korea. Aim is ti build up a strategic map of the air defence network so that they can find any holes and slip in the back door un-noticed.

Question is, is it in preperation for strikes in the near future or just as a back up plan? 8O

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