* Israel has no comment on news reports
* Iran has said in past it captured U.S. spy drones
* Natanz at heart of nuclear dispute
By Mehrdad Balali and Michelle Moghtader
DUBAI, Aug 24 Iran said on Sunday 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
imposed on the Islamic Republic.
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
Iran has accused Israel and its allies in the West of
assassinating its nuclear scientists and attacking its nuclear
sites with computer viruses.
Israel has always declined comment on such accusations and
on Sunday its military said it did not comment on foreign
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, an aircraft built by Israel's state-owned
Aerospace Industries known as the Heron, or the more powerful
Heron TP, is likely to have been involved for such a long-range
mission. Military commanders in Israel have described both as a
possible means of monitoring Iran and other countries.
In December 2012, Iran said it had captured a U.S.
intelligence ScanEagle drone, but the United States said at the
time there was no evidence to support the assertion.
In December 2011, Iran said it had captured a U.S. RQ-170
reconnaissance drone which was reported lost by U.S. forces in
Iranian commanders have since announced they had extracted
technology from the aircraft and were reverse-engineering it for
their own defence industry.
In 2010, Iran's nuclear facilities were hit by a virus known
as Stuxnet, which was widely believed to have been developed by
the United States and Israel, though no government took
responsibility for it.
In March of this year, pumps at Iran's planned Arak reactor,
seen by the West as a potential source of plutonium that could
be used in nuclear bombs, were subjected to a failed sabotage
attempt, a senior Iranian official said.
(Additional reporting by Allyn Fisher-Ilan and Dan Williams in
Jerusalem; Writing by Yara Bayoumy; Editing by Sami Aboudi and