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Iran showcases new combat drone, copied from US unmanned aircraft

DUBAI/PARIS: Iran’s Revolutionary Guards unveiled a home-built drone that they said was capable of carrying bombs, state media reported on Saturday, in what appeared to be another copy of a reconnaissance US drone that Iran captured five years ago.

The drone, called Saegheh, or lightning, was unveiled at an expo showcasing the latest achievements by the Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace arm.

“This long-range drone is capable of hitting four targets with smart precision-guided bombs with high accuracy,” the head of the Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace arm, Amir Ali Hajizadeh, was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.

The Guards did not demonstrate the drone’s abilities and did not say what range it had.

Photograph carried by the Tasnim news agency showed the Iranian drone looked similar to the US RQ-170 Sentinel aircraft that was captured in eastern Iran in 2011. Iranian media said the Iranian model was based on the US one.

US President Barack Obama asked Iran to give back the drone which belonged to American forces in neighbouring Afghanistan, but Tehran said Washington should apologise for spying on the country with unmanned aircraft.

UN atomic agency chief says Iran sticking to nuclear deal

Iran has kept to a nuclear deal it agreed with six world powers last year limiting its stockpiles of substances that could be used to make atomic weapons, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told French daily Le Monde.

Confirming the findings of a confidential report by the UN agency seen by Reuters last month, IAEA Director-General Yukiya Amano said Tehran had observed the deal which was opposed by hardliners inside Iran and by sceptics in the West.

“The deal is being implemented since January without any particular problem,” he told Le Monde in an interview published on Saturday.

“There was a small incident in February: the stock of heavy water very slightly exceeded the limit set – 130 tonnes. But we immediately signalled that to Iran which took all the necessary measures,” he said.

Under its July deal with the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany, Iran is allowed to have 130 tonnes of heavy water, a moderator in reactors like the one it has disabled at Arak and a chemical it produces itself.

The stock briefly reached 130.9 tonnes, the agency reported in February.

“Apart from that, I can certify that Tehran respects its commitments to the letter. The Iranians are doing what they promised the international community,” Amano said.

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