American officials insist that neither weaponry nor technology brought down a U.S. drone that was flying over Iranian territory earlier this month, but a former U.S. ambassador says if reports are true that Russia provided jamming equipment, the situation becomes all that much worse.
"Some reports have said Russia sold (Iran) a very sophisticated jamming system a short time ago," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton told Fox News on Sunday. "Now, our military says that is not true, it came down because of a malfunction. I certainly hope that's right because if the Russians have provided Iran with sophisticated jamming equipment it means a lot else is at risk too."
Bolton said Congress ought to be concerned if the Iranians are in possession of jamming technology that can bring down missiles, planes and communications and guidance systems "for a whole range of our weapon systems."
On Sunday, an Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps senior commander said the regime will not return the drone, and in fact, considered the spy mission of the unmanned vehicle to be an act of war itself.
"We are not the kind of country to allow our enemy to operate freely within our national security and to continue without any response, but regarding the kind of reaction we will show, our enemies will see its effects," said. Gen. Hossein Salami.
The drone itself was shown on Iranian television and appears to be mainly intact, though a U.S. official told Fox News that it looks like one wing had been removed and put back on.
President Obama was given different options by the Pentagon to go into Iran and either retrieve the RQ-170 or destroy it, but he declined because, sources say, he didn't want such a mission to be seen as an act of war.
Bolton said that's not an adequate excuse.
"The Iranians, in saying they would not give it back, said the very act of sending it over Iran was an act of war, which undercuts the Obama administration's assertion that we didn't go into try and destroy the drone after it was captured for fear of the Iranians saying exactly that. ... So while there may be a lot of good reasons not to go in that is not one."
Bolton added there may be several reasons not to destroy the drone, but it's important to find out whether "the classified information and other intellectual property inside the drone was erased" before the Iranians got hold of it.
"If they still got the electrons in there, that can reveal what was programmed into the drone it would be very bad news indeed," he said.