Iran shoots down US drone
Iran said the US drone they shot down was a “blatant violation of international law,” calling on the international community to demand the US end “its continued unlawful and destabilizing measure in the already volatile region of the Persian Gulf.”
In a new letter to the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres and United Nations Security Council, Majid Takht Ravanchi, Iran's ambassador to the UN, wrote:
“While the Islamic Republic of Iran does not seek war, it reserves its inherent right, under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, to take all appropriate necessary measures against any hostile act violating its territory, and is determined to vigorously defend its land, sea and air."
Ravanchi added: “Iran condemns, in the strongest possible terms, this irresponsible and provocative wrongful act by the United States, which entails its international responsibility.”
Earlier today, the UN secretary general said he was very concerned about developments in the Gulf region, including the reported downing of a US drone by Iran.
“He appeals to all sides to exercise maximum restraint and avoid any action that can escalate the already tense situation,” his spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is "a triangulator" between President Trump and national security adviser John Bolton on the topic of Iran, a senior diplomatic source of a US ally told CNN.
“From what we’ve seen, Pompeo has made an effort to be a sort of triangulator between Bolton’s well-known views, and the President. Somewhere in between. He maintains that the goal is reestablishing deterrence, but that is still very risky,” the source said.
A senior White House official told CNN that there is a Bolton v. Trump debate on how to proceed on Iran, and Trump definitely does not want conflict. The source said Pompeo, Vice President Mike Pence and incoming acting Secretary of Defense Mark Esper are the “swing votes.”
A US Navy official told CNN that approximate cost of the RQ-4A Global Hawk drone is $110 million.
What we know: Both the US and Iran say Iranian forces shot down the US drone. However, the two countries have given different reports on where it went down.
Iran's Revolutionary Guard said it had shot down an "intruding American spy drone" after it entered into the country's territory Thursday.
A US official confirmed to CNN a drone had been shot down, but said the incident occurred in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world's most vital shipping route.
Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has tweeted a timeline of the US drone that was shot down on Thursday by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC).
In his tweet, Zarif said the drone "violated Iranian airspace."
"We've retrieved sections of the US military drone in OUR territorial waters where it was shot down,” he tweeted.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on “nations who desire peace and security” to support the United States in its position against Iran.
“In the last 24 hours, Iran has intensified its aggression against the United States and the international community. I once again call upon the nations who desire peace and security to support the United States in its efforts against the aggression of Iran,” Netanyahu said in a statement Thursday evening.
Earlier in the week, Netanyahu called on the international community to impose sanctions against Iran if it enriches low-grade uranium beyond the limits allowed in the Iran nuclear deal, which he staunchly opposed.
Next week, Israel will host national security adviser John Bolton and his Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev, in Jerusalem to discuss Syria and Iran.
Netanyahu tweeted a video message Thursday, saying Iran's actions are "against all of us."
The Pentagon is walking a "fine line" focusing on defense and deterrence and keeping anti-Iran political rhetoric out of the internal high-level discussions, a senior US official said.
General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, continued to point out in internal discussions that what to do about Iran is a policy question, the official said. If the policy is a military response, then Dunford is prepared to explain in detail the cost of doing that in every discussion.
The bottom line: The fine line is defend and deter without tipping over into provocation — which is why you see limited numbers of forces going for now.
The official said the military view is this:
- If you want to really stop Iran’s nuclear program, that immediately gets you to regime change, which is an enormous undertaking.
- If you want to respond with a single strike to any particular Iranian provocation, you cannot predict how Iran might react and it still risks leading you to war.
National security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have both been briefed in detail on military options for Iran, including how many forces and how long it takes to get them there, the source said. Pompeo was recently told in detail what it would take to go to war against Iran.
A senior White House official told CNN that prior to today, the attacks have been not aimed at US, but “now that changes since it is our stuff...It is a clear escalation."
"Nobody died, but an expensive resource of ours, we don’t have many of, got blown up. We obviously care about that.”
Iranian forces shot down a US military drone today — a move that could escalate an already tense relationship between the two countries.
If you're just catching up on the news, here's what we know so far:
- What happened: Both the US and Iran say Iranian forces shot down a US drone. However, the two countries have given different reports on where the drone was.
- What the US is saying: Pentagon officials said Iran's action was "an unprovoked attack" and that the drone was flying over international waters.
- What Iran is saying: Iran has hit back with strong rhetoric, saying the country’s elite Revolutionary Guards fired on an “intruding American spy drone" that was flying in Iranian airspace. The head of the guard said "destroying the US spy drone had a clear, quick, explicit and accurate message, which is that defenders of Iran's borders will give strong and firm responses against any invasion of any strangers against this land."
- What President Trump is saying: Trump said he believes Iran mistakenly shot down the US drone, saying he finds it "hard to believe it was intentional" and that it would have made a "big, big difference" if there was someone inside the drone.
- Escalating tension: On Monday, the Trump administration deployed 1,000 additional troops and more military resources to the Middle East. US officials have also blamed Iran for conducting attacks against oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
President Trump insisted Thursday his hawkish advisers are not leading him into war.
And while he reiterated his view that endless wars need to end, he cast the downing of a US spy drone by Iran as a new provocation.
"We’re pulling a lot of people back but this is a new wrinkle," Trump said, noting decisions to draw down troops in Syria and Afghanistan. "This is a new fly in the ointment, what happened shooting down the drone. And this country will not stand for it, that I can tell you."
Trump has said privately over the past weeks that he is not interested in wading into another foreign conflict. And he's been frustrated in the past that some of his advisers appear to use tougher rhetoric.
But he denied Thursday that any of his team is pushing him toward conflict.
"No, not at all. Not at all. In fact in many cases it's the opposite," he said. "Look, I said I want to get out of these endless wars. I campaigned on that. I want to get out."
The Department of Defense has released a video purporting to show a trail of smoke after the RQ-4A Global Hawk was shot down over the Gulf of Oman.
Watch the video below: