File Picture - ScanEagle UAV sits on the catapult prior to launch - Wikimedia Commons

Iran claims it has extracted data from the 'captured' US drone which was allegedly surveying the country above the Persian Gulf.

Iran's Press TV has broadcast images of what it claims is the captured ScanEagle drone, while the country's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) says the plane was captured undamaged.

Meanwhile, Iran pledged to pursue legal action against the US over the violation of its airspace.

"We had formally protested such actions by the US and had announced that we would defend our borders by any means possible," said the Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi.

"We had told the Americans that according to international conventions, we would not allow them to violate our borders, but unfortunately they did not comply... Of course, we had objected to the Americans before, but they claimed they were not present in our territories.

"We will use this drone as evidence to pursue a legal case against the US invasion at relevant international bodies," he added, according to the IRNA.

Iran's claims were contested by US officials as they maintained that all US military drones had been accounted for. White House spokesperson Jay Carney said that the US has "no evidence that the Iranians' claims are true".

Washington's report was further substantiated by the US Navy's 5<sup>th Fleet in Bahrain. "The U.S. Navy has fully accounted for all unmanned air vehicles operating in the Middle East region. Our operations in the Gulf are confined to internationally recognised waters and airspace," said spokesperson Commander Jason Salata.

Apart from the US, both the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait also possess ScanEagle drones in their naval fleet in the region.

The ScanEagle drone is smaller and less sophisticated than other models, such as the Predator, and is generally used to collect pictures of the region, say experts.

However Tehran did not miss the opportunity to taunt the Obama administration, saying the latest capture has exposed its failure.

"The new US failure in spying operation by this drone demonstrated that the US government, despite its high military and economic power and its dominance on the world political order, is not capable of confronting the Islamic Iran, and Iran can easily undo all its plans," said the Brigadier General Hossein Salami.

Salami went on to say that Iran is able to survive even under the pressure of US-backed sanctions.