TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A prominent Iranian parliament member said Friday that a U.S. drone violated Iran's airspace a week ago, when the Pentagon says it was fired on. The U.S. maintains the pilotless craft was over international waters.
Lawmaker Mohammad Saleh Jokar told state-owned yjc.ir news website that Iranian fighters shot at the U.S. drone because it had entered Iranian airspace.
"Violation of the airspace of Iran was the reason for shooting at the American drone," Mohammad Saleh Jokar was quoted as saying. "This showed Iran has the necessary readiness to defend against any invasion."
The semi-official Fars news agency also suggested that the drone violated Iran's airspace.
Fars carried quotes from a general in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards as saying Iran would confront any "flying object" that entered its air space.
Fars said following the claim by the Pentagon about firing on the U.S. drone, Gen. Masoud Jazayeri a senior figure in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and the deputy head of Iran's Joint Chiefs of Staff said, "Defenders of the Islamic Republic of Iran will strongly respond to any ground, sea or air invasion."
The remarks came a day after the Pentagon said an Iranian military plane fired on, but did not hit, an unarmed U.S. drone aircraft a week ago. A Pentagon spokesman said the drone was in international airspace over the Persian Gulf.
Pentagon press secretary George Little said the drone aircraft was performing "routine surveillance" and was about 26 kilometers (16 miles) off the Iranian coast when an Iranian SU-25 warplane intercepted it and opened fire. He said it was the first time an unmanned U.S. aircraft was shot at in international airspace over the Gulf.
Little said the U.S. informed the Iranians that it would continue to conduct such surveillance flights in international airspace.
Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have been high over Iran's suspect nuclear program.
The U.S and its western allies suspect Iran is pursuing nuclear weapon. Iran denies the charge saying its nuclear activities have aimed at peaceful purposes like power generation and cancer treatment.