The Iranian government says it shot down an unmanned U.S. plane that violated the country's airspace. The result could be a further chilling of Iran's relationship with the West.

The incident comes amid continued attempts to thwart what Western governments and Israel say are Iranian efforts to develop nuclear weapons, The Telegraph notes. Iran's leadership maintains that its nuclear program is peaceful. They are also at pains to contain the response to the recent sacking of the British embassy in Tehran, after which British leaders expelled Iran's own diplomats from London.

Iran shot down the drone at a time when it is trying to contain foreign reaction to the storming of the British embassy in Tehran on Tuesday, shortly after London announced that it would impose sanctions on Iran's central bank in connection with Iran's controversial nuclear enrichment programme.

Britain evacuated its diplomatic staff from Iran and expelled Iranian diplomats in London in retaliation, and several other EU members recalled their ambassadors from Tehran.

The attack dragged Iran's relations with Europe to a long-time low.

Iran's Fars news agency, described as "semi-official," reported the craft shot down on Sunday was a Lockheed Martin Sentinel drone, The Washington Post reported.

 

“Iran’s army has downed an intruding RQ-170 American drone in eastern Iran,” Iran’s Arabic-language Al Alam state television network quoted an unnamed source as saying. "The spy drone, which has been downed with little damage, was seized by the armed forces." The station did not show any images of the alleged drone.

An unnamed military official told the Fars news agency that Iran’s response “will not be limited to the country’s borders.”