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Buried October Surprise? Iran Shot at U.S. Drone

The news comes days after Valerie Jarrett was said to be involved in Iran negotiations

Adam Chandler
November 08, 2012

Some pretty alarming news broke this afternoon about an American surveillance drone, which was fired upon by Iranian planes. The drone was over international waters in the Persian Gulf when it was targeted, but was not hit.

The shooting, which the Pentagon said occurred Nov. 1 — five days before the American presidential election — was the first known instance of Iranian warplanes firing on an American surveillance drone. George Little, the top Pentagon spokesman, attributed the weeklong official silence on the episode to restrictions on discussing classified surveillance missions.

But the episode — and the official silence about it until Thursday — raised questions about whether the delay had been meant to forestall a controversy before the election.

This comes as well-known tensions remain high between the United States and Iran over the latter’s nuclear program, currently the target of broad international sanctions led by the United States. The incident also comes weeks after an Iranian drone launched by Hezbollah was shot down by Israeli forces after reportedly taking pictures of Israeli bases. Most notably though, this news comes just days after it had been announced that the Shiraz-born Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett had been assisting the United States in its negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. How this incident avoided daylight, despite taking place in range of the Strait of Hormuz–the choke point nearly a fifth of the world’s oil avoided daylight, is pretty stunning. Meanwhile, rumors that Iran and United States were set to engage direct talks made headlines last week.

What else don’t we know about the American strategy vis-à-vis Iran?

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.