Iran says it is not missing any drones, and suggested that maybe the U.S. shot down one of its own drones in the Persian Gulf.
Tehran was responding to President Trump’s claim on Thursday that an Iranian drone was shot down after it got within 1,000 yards of the USS Boxer, a Navy warship, and refused to back off after being hailed multiple times.
“All drones belonging to Iran in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz returned safely to their bases after their mission of identification and control, and there is no report of any operational response by USS Boxer,” Abolfazl Shekarchi, a senior armed forces spokesman, was quoted as saying by the country’s Tasnim news agency.
Arriving for a U.N. meeting, Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters that “we have no information about losing a drone today.”
Zarif’s deputy, Abbas Araqchi also denied on Friday that Iran had lost a drone, adding that maybe the USS Boxer had misidentified its target.
“We have not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else. I am worried that USS Boxer has shot down their own UAS [Unmanned Aerial System] by mistake!," Araqchi said on Twitter.
Neither Trump nor the Pentagon gave details on how the drone was taken down, but CNN reported Thursday, citing anonymous Pentagon sources, that electronic jamming was used rather than firing a missile at the drone.
The incident is the latest escalation of spiraling tensions between the U.S. and Iran, which stem from Washington’s decision to withdraw from a 2015 nuclear deal and to reimpose crippling economic sanctions against Tehran.
Tehran raised the stakes last month when it shot down a U.S. surveillance drone. In response, the U.S. prepared a military strike against Iranian targets, only for Trump to call off the attack at the last minute.
In recent weeks a series of attacks on oil tankers, which Washington and London have blamed on Tehran, have added to the sense of unease in the region. The U.S. has significantly increased its military presence in the area in the last two months, including the USS Boxer, and experts fear this may lead to an accidental war with Iran.
Cover: Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif addresses the High Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, at United Nations headquarters, Wednesday, July 17, 2019. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)