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Iran's Game Of Drones

Iranian Deputy Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami poses with a new, locally made combat drone during an unveiling ceremony in Tehran on September 23.

"Yes, We Can," "Iranian Bat," "Inbama" (eds.: this is with us, in Persian), "The Eagle of the Persian Gulf," "Pride," "Phoenix," and "Fearless."

These are some of the names Iranians have suggested for an aircraft Tehran says it has manufactured based on a U.S. drone captured in 2011.

The suggestions come following a call by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) on Iranians inside and outside the country to offer names for the Iranian drone, which Tehran claims it successfully tested on November 12.

The Iranian replica has been praised by IRGC commanders and other Iranian officials as a major achievement and a blow to the United States. They claim that Iranian engineers have managed to improve the efficiency of the U.S. RQ-170 Sentinel. The Pentagon has downplayed the claims and said that the Iranian replica is an inferior copy.

In a statement posted on Iranian news sites, the IRGC said that due to the "importance of naming" the Iranian drone, it was calling on "appreciative" Iranian citizens, particularly the youth, to text their suggestions to a number it provided.

In a separate statement, the Revolutionary Guards said that Iranians outside the country could also offer their suggestions via e-mail. The IRGC said it had been contacted by many Iranian expats and "fans of the Islamic Revolution" demanding to be able to take part in the naming of the "Iranian RQ-170."

The individual with the best name will be rewarded with an "exquisite gift", the IRGC has promised.

Dozens of names have already been posted under the IRGC statements by readers of the website of the hard-line Fars news agency, which is affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards. They include "Trophy 170", "What You Can Do, I Can Do Better," and "Swallow."

In what appeared to be a show of force and sarcasm , the commander of the IRGC's aerospace division, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, was quoted last week by Iranian media as saying that Iran could offer the United States a copy of the captured drone.

"We will not extradite the US RQ-170 drone, since it is a [war] trophy, but if Iranian sanctions against the U.S. are lifted, maybe we will give the U.S. an Iranian model of the drone," Hajizadeh was quoted as saying.

--Golnaz Esfandiari

Iranian political activist Taghi Rahmani is one of the signatories of a statement calling for a positive outcome to Iran's nuclear negotiations ahead of a November 24 deadline. (file photo)

Many Iranians are watching the new round of nuclear talks in Vienna between major world powers and Iran with great interest, hoping for a deal that would lead to the lifting of economic sanctions imposed on their country and an improvement in their daily lives.

Among those hoping for an agreement are intellectuals, political activists, opposition members, and some victims of the Iranian establishment's repressive policies.

"We want maximum flexibility from both sides for the talks to succeed," said a statement signed by some 70 political and social activists inside and outside the country that was issued amid the looming November 24 deadline.

The signatories include Parvin Fahimi whose son was killed in the 2009 postelection state crackdown on oppositionists and the well-known national religious activist Taghi Rahmani, who has been jailed and harassed by the Iranian regime.

The statement says that a positive outcome to the nuclear talks would help peace in the region and also aid democratic progress in Iran.

The statement warns that Iranian "radicals opposed to freedom and democracy" and "pro- war forces" would be the ones to benefit should the talks fail.

In a separate statement, over 100 Iranian intellectuals, political activists, and former student leaders have issued a similar warning.

They write that any failure to reach a breakthrough in the nuclear talks between Iran and the so-called P5+1 group of world powers -- composed of the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, and France, plus Germany -- would be beneficial for radical forces in the region and in Israel.

The group has called on Iran to show flexibility in the nuclear talks and not allow the negotiations to fail over the capacity of its nuclear-enrichment program.

"In our view, [Iran's] uranium-enrichment program does not have an economic justification, even though, in principle, based on the [Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty], Iran has the right to enrich uranium."

The activists warn that the lack of a nuclear agreement would strengthen the foreign policy desired by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, which they say has had catastrophic results for Iranians.

"Its substance is the policy of no war and no peace [i.e. no conflict, but no normalized relations] in the region along with the continuation of 'Death to America' and 'Death to Israel' slogans," the signatories write.

They also write that the majority of Iranians are not willing to pay the price for the establishment's tension-creating policies and its nuclear ambitions.

-- Golnaz Esfandiari

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About This Blog

Persian Letters is a blog that offers a window into Iranian politics and society. Written primarily by Golnaz Esfandiari, Persian Letters brings you under-reported stories, insight and analysis, as well as guest Iranian bloggers -- from clerics, anarchists, feminists, Basij members, to bus drivers.

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