1 of 2
Vahid Salemi, Associated Press
In this picture taken on Sept. 11, 2011, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, talks during a press conference in Tehran, Iran. Iran deliberately delayed its announcement that it had captured an American surveillance drone to test U.S. reaction, Salehi said Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011.

WASHINGTON — A U.S. official says Iran will find it hard to exploit any data or technology aboard the captured CIA stealth drone because of measures taken to limit the intelligence value of drones when they operate in hostile territory.

The official also says the U.S. is convinced that the unmanned aircraft malfunctioned and came down on its own, rejecting Iran's claims that it used GPS and electronic warfare methods to hijack it. The U.S. says it lost control of the drone over eastern Iran earlier this month.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity Saturday to discuss classified matters publicly and offered no details. But experts say all the drone's data and communications are heavily encrypted.

U.S. experts disagree over whether Iran could have diverted the robot aircraft.