Does Israel Believe Downed Drone in Iran Contained Attack Coordinates?
John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, a consulting firm, said in response to a query from CNN about the video images that the aircraft did not look the way he would expect it to look after a crash, fueling suspicion that the Iranians may have displayed a mock-up.
Adam Rawnsley at Wired's Danger Room cautions:
The footage of the drone released Thursday by Iran seems to show an intact aircraft that seems to roughly conform to the RQ-170′s dimensions and appearance. But it’s a little fishy for an aircraft that would have fallen hundreds or thousands of feet to appear without so much as a scratch on it, as this one does.
But the pride that Iranian Revolutionary Guard Brigadier General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh displays in the aircraft is tough to find. Meanwhile, reports the Washington Post, U.S. officials maintained that the incident was
… not a fatal blow to the stealth drone program. … the CIA had used technologies that it could afford to have exposed. Among the main concerns is that Iran could use an intact aircraft to examine the vulnerabilities in stealth technology and take countermeasures with its air defense systems.
According to the Israeli intelligence site Debka, Israel is even more alarmed. (All emphasis added).
The Obama administration's decision … not to send US commando or air units into Iran to retrieve or destroy the secret RQ-170 stealth drone which fell into Iranian hands has strengthened the hands of the Israeli faction which argues the case for striking Iran's nuclear installations without waiting for the Americans to make their move.
Wait, how did Debka come to that conclusion? It explains.
Senior Israeli diplomatic and security officials who followed the discussion in Washington concluded that, by failing to act, the administration has left Iran not only with the secrets of the Sentinel's stealth coating, its sensors and cameras, but also with the data stored in its computer cells on targets marked out by the US and/or Israeli for attack.
… military sources say that this knowledge compels the US and Israel to revise their plans of attack for aborting the Iranian nuclear program. Like every clandestine weapons system, the RQ-170 had a self-destruct mechanism to prevent its secrets spilling out to the enemy in the event of a crash or capture. This did not happen.
What's more, the
… Obama administration's internal discussion on how to handle the loss of the high-value reconnaissance drone was followed tensely in Jerusalem. The decision it took against mounting a mission to recover or destroy the top-secret Sentinel was perceived in Israel as symptomatic of a wider decision to call off the covert war America has been conducting for some months against Iran's drive for a nuclear bomb – at least until the damage caused by RQ-170 incident is fully assessed.
It's difficult to understand how Israel draws the conclusion from the United States' decision to refrain from chasing down the downed drone that it's abandoning its covert war. Debka again.
A senior Israeli security official had this to say: “Everything that’s happened around the RQ-170 shows that when it comes to Iran and its nuclear program, the Obama administration and Israel have different objectives. On this issue, each country needs to go its own way.”
One can't help but think that Israel is looking for an excuse to "go its own way" and mount an attack against Iran on its own -- secure, of course, in the knowledge that the United States will come to its rescue when it inevitably gets in over its head.