American officials have reportedly contemplated a covert operation inside Iran to retrieve or destroy an unmanned stealth drone that the Iranian military downed last week.
A US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Washington authorities considered a covert plan to regain the remote-controlled reconnaissance aircraft, but aborted the secret operation in fears of an Iranian retaliatory measure, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.
“Americans concluded that such a covert plan wasn't worth the potential it could become a larger incident,” the US official said.
He added, “If an assault team entered the country (Iran) to recover or destroy the drone, the United States could be accused of an act of war by the Iranian government.”
Iranian Army's electronic warfare unit downed a US-built RQ-170 Sentinel stealth aircraft on December 4, after it crossed into Iran's airspace over the border with neighboring Afghanistan.
A senior Iranian military official said the US reconnaissance drone had been seized with minimum damage.
The RQ-170 is an unmanned stealth aircraft designed and developed by the Lockheed Martin Company.
The US military and the CIA have also used the drone to launch assassination missile strikes in Afghanistan and in Pakistan's northwestern tribal region.
The unnamed Iranian military official added that “due to the clear border violation, the operational and electronic measures taken by the Islamic Republic of Iran's Armed Forces against the invading aircraft will not remain limited to Iran's borders."