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Iran: Obama should apologize for drone 'spying operation'

TEHRAN, Iran - President Barack Obama should apologize for sending an unmanned spy plane into Iranian territory rather than asking for it back after it was seized, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday.

Iran announced on December 4 it had downed the spy plane in the eastern part of the country, near Afghanistan. It has since shown the plane on television and said it is close to cracking its technological secrets.

On Monday, Obama told a news conference: "We have asked for it back. We'll see how the Iranians respond." Iranian officials had already said they would not return the drone.

Former Vice President Dick Cheney criticized Obama's handling of the situation in an interview with CNN late Monday, slamming him for refusing to take action.

Cheney said that he was told Obama was presented with several options that included plans for recovery or destruction of the downed drone. "He rejected all of them," Cheney said.

"He certainly could have gone in and destroyed it on the ground in an airstrike but he didn't take any of the options, he asked nicely for them to return it," he said.

Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told a news conference Tuesday that Obama had "forgotten that our air space was violated, a spying operation conducted and international law trampled."

Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi told the official IRNA news agency: "The U.S. spy drone is the property of Islamic Republic of Iran. Tehran will decide what it wants to do in this regard."

Meanwhile Ahmadinejad appeared on Venezuelan state TV Tuesday and said Iran had "been able to control" the drone, CNN reported.

"Those who have been in control of this spy plane surely will analyze the plane's system," he reportedly told VTV in Farsi.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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