We have no information on the loss of a drone today: Zarif
WASHINGTON – A US Navy ship shot down an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz after its operators ignored the warnings, US President Donald Trump said in a tweet on Thursday.
This is Washington’s first military action against Tehran after a series of incidents in the Gulf during which it pledged to “aggressively” ensure the free movement of ships.
The drone arrived within 1,000 meters of the USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship, and the United States took defensive action, Trump said.
“The drone was immediately destroyed,” he said from the White House. “This is the last of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against ships operating in international waters.
“The United States reserves the right to defend our personnel, facilities and interests.”
The fall was preceded by an Iranian helicopter flying along the Boxer, a few meters from the bridge, according to the Wall Street Journal, which is aboard the ship. Aircraft should not fly so close to ships without their permission, he said.
The fall of the drone marked a new escalation between Washington and Tehran.
Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman confirmed Thursday the attack on the drone.
“Around 10 am local time, the USS Boxer amphibious vessel was in international waters to make the planned transit of the Strait of Hormuz,” said Hoffman.
“A fixed-wing unmanned aerial system approached Boxer and was closed in a threatening area. The vessel took defensive measures to ensure the safety of the vessel and its crew.”
After the drone was shot dead, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif tweeted the word “reminder” with a map showing the distance between the United States and Iran and the Gulf.
He then told reporters at the United Nations: “We have no information on the loss of a drone today”.
Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi denied Friday that he had lost a drone and suggested that the United States could have been “mistaken”.
Iran’s leaders have previously called on the United States to withdraw from the region.
The head of the Central Command of the United States, Kenneth McKenzie, pledged on Thursday to work “aggressively” with his partners to guarantee freedom of navigation in the Gulf.
The United States Special Representative for Iran, Brian Hook, will meet with the ambassadors of the State Department on Friday to promote a plan by the United States to create a maritime coalition to prevent further attacks in the Gulf.
Hook said the Sentinel program, “will make it harder for Iran to interrupt the freedom of trade and navigation.”
He did not specify which countries would attend the meeting and it is not clear which States agreed to participate.
The United States also plans to install surveillance and protection equipment on ships that cross the Gulf.
Washington has recently reinforced its military presence and the US-based Bahrain-based Fifth Fleet has said that the Arab Gulf states have stepped up their patrols.
The commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Hossein Salami, said on Thursday that Iran adopted a defensive strategy, but warned that “if our enemies make mistakes … our strategy may become offensive.”
Iran on Thursday announced its readiness to do diplomacy to calm tensions with the United States with a modest supply in its nuclear program that has provoked an immediate skepticism in Washington.
The Iranian Foreign Minister told reporters in New York that Iran could immediately ratify a document that would prescribe more intrusive inspections of its nuclear program if the United States abandoned its economic sanctions.
Washington is trying to force Tehran to accept stricter limits on its nuclear capability, to limit its ballistic missile program and to end the support of alternative forces in Yemen, Syria and Lebanon.
(Sahar News Monitoring Desk)