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Iran to return drone to Obama – a pink, $4 toy version

An Iranian toymaker is hawking a toy replica of the American RQ-170 Sentinel drone that Iran downed last month. The drone is far less controversial than another US-inspired toy: Barbie.

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Neither the US nor Israel has taken the military option off the table to prevent Iran building a nuclear weapon. Iran says it has no intention of doing so, but wants to peacefully produce nuclear power.

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"They are so kitsch – they are kitschifying [America] and they are kitschifying the drone," says the Tehran resident. "What other espionage agency in the world celebrates a day for itself? Or puts up billboards which say: 'Talk to us about your security concerns.' "

Drone accessory for Barbie?

The drone model enters a cultural arena already hotly contested in Iran, where regime ideologues have battled "Westoxication" for a generation.

Top of the target list for toys have often been Barbie dolls, with their busty proportions and array of clothes and accessories seen as symbols of a permissive Western lifestyle.

In recent weeks, Iranian officials have renewed their protest at this Barbie-led "cultural invasion," decrying it as part of a "soft war" against Iran's religious values.

One Tehran shopkeeper told Reuters that morality police visited three weeks ago "asking us to remove all the Barbies." Past crackdowns have sought to remove Barbies from toy shelves they shared with Batman and Power Rangers and a host of other US- and European-style toys.

More than a decade ago, Iranian educational officials decried Barbie as "like the wooden horse of Troy with many cultural invading soldiers inside it."

Another crackdown against such "spiritual pollutants" was launched in 2002, on the Barbie dolls that have often – despite their higher cost, and questionable legality – been openly displayed in toy shops.

Iran's effort since 1999 to make its own version of Barbie and Ken – an Islamically appropriate pair known as "Sara and Dara," with the girl in a headscarf – have not been big hits because they are heavier and stiffer.

"My daughter prefers Barbie. She says Sara and Dara are ugly and fat," a mother named Farnaz told Reuters.

But the release of the drone model is an example of an acceptable design – inspired directly from the United States.

"I agree with [Iranian officials] on Barbie; Barbie should be killed," says the Tehrani. "Maybe the Barbie makers should have a Barbie drone accessory, as a form of retaliation [against the Iranian regime]?"

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(This story was edited after posting to clarify that Israel, rather than Iran, has declined to rule out the US of force against Iran's nuclear program.)

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