Iran said yesterday that it had shot down an Israeli spy drone that was heading for its Natanz nuclear enrichment site, Iranian media reported.
"The downed aircraft was of the stealth, radar-evasive type and it intended to penetrate the off-limits nuclear area in Natanz ... but was targeted by a ground-to-air missile before it managed to enter the area," state news agency ISNA said, citing a statement by Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
The Natanz facility is one issue at the heart of a long-running dispute between Iran and countries that believe it is seeking nuclear weapons capability, something Tehran denies.
Iran and six world powers are trying to negotiate an end to the standoff which has led to damaging economic sanctions.
Israel, widely assumed to have the Middle East's only atomic arsenal, demands Iran be stripped of all nuclear technologies, something Tehran rules out and which most foreign diplomats deem unrealistic.
Iran has accused Israel and its Western allies of assassinating its nuclear scientists and attacking its nuclear sites with computer viruses. Israel has always declined comment on such accusations and yesterday its military said it did not comment on foreign reports.
The Revolutionary Guards said of the drone incursion: "This wily act further exposed the Zionist regime's adventurous temperament and added yet another black page to a record filled with crime and mischief."
If confirmed, a drone built by Israel's state-owned Aerospace Industries known as the Heron, or the more powerful Heron TP, is likely to have been used on such a long-range mission.
In December 2012, Iran said it had captured a US spy drone, but the US said there was no evidence to support the claim. Iran also claimed in late 2011 to have captured a US drone reported lost by US forces in Afghanistan.