Iran’s shooting down a US surveillance drone marks the first time the nation directly attacked the American military amid tensions over Tehran’s unraveling nuclear deal with the US and 6 other nations. “We do not have any intention for war with any country, but we are fully ready for war,” Revolutionary Guard commander Gen. Hossein Salami said in a televised address.
DESPARDES — Iran has shot down a U.S. drone which the Revolutionary Guards said on Thursday was flying over southern Iran, raising fears that a military confrontation could erupt between Tehran and Washington.
An Iranian surface-to-air missile brought down the U.S. Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk, an unmanned aircraft with a wingspan larger than a Boeing 737 jetliner and costing over $100 million.
President Donald Trump soon after the “unprovoked attack” on a US drone, spoke from the Oval Office and said they (Iran) made a very big bad mistake…”perhaps an Iranian General was acting loose and stupid”. He appeared to play down the incident, as he spoke with reporters at the White House with Canadian PM Trudeau sitting alongside him. He earlier tweeted: “Iran made a very big mistake!”
“We do not have any intention for war with any country, but we are fully ready for war,” Revolutionary Guard commander Gen. Hossein Salami said in a televised address.
Guards website Sepah News said the “spy” drone was brought down over the southern Iranian province of Hormozgan, which is on the Gulf.
While Iran’s state news agency IRNA carried the same report, identifying the drone as an RQ-4 Global Hawk, a U.S. official said a U.S. Navy MQ-4C Triton had been shot down in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.
Earlier, a spokesman for the U.S. military’s Central Command, Navy Captain Bill Urban, said no U.S. aircraft were flying over Iran on Wednesday.
The U.S. military has in recent days confirmed an attempt by Iran to shoot down a U.S. drone last week as well as the successful shooting down of one on June 6 by Iran-aligned Houthi forces in Yemen.
A senior Iranian security official quoted by AP said on Wednesday Iran would “strongly respond” to any violation of its airspace.
“Our airspace is our red line and Iran has always responded and will continue to respond strongly to any country that violates our airspace,” the semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security council as saying.
Tension between Iran and the United States has spiked since last year when President Donald Trump withdrew from a 2015 6-nations nuclear deal between Iran and major powers and reimposed sanctions on it.
After the Trump sanctions, Iran quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium to be on pace to break one of the deal’s terms by next week while threatening to raise enrichment closer to weapons-grade levels on July 7 if Europe doesn’t offer it a new deal to to protect its economy from the U.S. sanctions within 60 days.
Concern about a military confrontation has increased since attacks on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week and on four tankers off the United Arab Emirates on May 12, both near the Strait of Hormuz, a major conduit for global oil supplies.
The United States and Saudi Arabia have blamed Iran for the incidents. Iran has denied responsibility.
The U.S. military has sent forces, including aircraft carriers, B-52 bombers and troops to the Middle East. However, Trump said he does not seek war with Iran.
Iran said last week that it was responsible for the security of the Strait of Hormuz, calling on American forces to leave the Gulf.
Elsewhere in the region Thursday, Saudi Arabia said Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels fired a rocket at a desalination plant in al-Shuqaiq, a city in the kingdom’s Jizan province. The state-run Saudi Press Agency quoted military spokesman Col. Turki al-Maliki as saying it caused no damage or casualties.