By Peter Schroeder - 12/04/11 04:34 PM EST
Iran said Sunday it had shot down an unmanned U.S. drone, according to the nation's semiofficial Fars news agency.
Citing an unnamed military official, the report claims that Iran's military shot down the drone, which suffered minimal damage. It describes the plane as an RQ-170, an unmanned stealth plane manufactured by Lockheed Martin, but no images of the plane have been made public.
NATO in a press release Sunday said that Iran's claims may have merit.
"The UAV to which the Iranians are referring may be a U.S. unarmed reconnaissance aircraft that had been flying a mission over western Afghanistan late last week. The operators of the UAV lost control of the aircraft and had been working to determine its status," it said in a statement.
The development comes at a time of heightened relations between the Middle Eastern nation and the Western world. Protestors stormed the British Embassy in Tehran this week, leading to the removal of all British diplomats from the nation.
And U.S. policymakers are mulling tightening sanctions on Iran, as the Senate unanimously approved Tuesday a measure that would apply economic sanctions to Iran's central bank, in response to the nation's developing nuclear program.
U.S. officials denied another claim made by Iran in July that it had shot down another drone.
This story has been updated.
Erik Wasson contributed.