July 19, 2019
Donald Trump has said that a US warship destroyed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz, amid heightened tensions between the two countries.
The US president said the USS Boxer took defensive action after the drone came within 1,000 yards of the warship and ignored multiple calls to stand down.
Trump said the drone threatened the safety of the American ship and its crew, and called on other countries to condemn Iran and protect their own ships.
He said: “This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters. The United States reserves the right to defend our personnel, facilities and interests, and calls upon all nations to condemn Iran’s attempts to disrupt freedom of navigation and global commerce.”
The Pentagon said in a statement that the USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship, had taken “defensive action” against a drone, but did not mention whether the aircraft was Iranian.
The chief Pentagon spokesman, Jonathan Hoffman, said in a written statement: “A fixed-wing unmanned aerial system approached Boxer and closed within a threatening range. The ship took defensive action against the UAS to ensure the safety of the ship and its crew.”
Tensions in the Gulf region are high, with fears that the United States and Iran could stumble into war.
Iran recently shot down a US drone that it said was flying over Iranian waters. Trump called off a planned retaliatory airstrike at the last minute.
Iran claimed the drone violated its airspace. The Pentagon denied this.
Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said on Thursday that Iran and the US were only “a few minutes away from a war” after Iran downed the American drone.
Earlier on Thursday, Iran said its Revolutionary Guard seized a foreign oil tanker and its crew of 12 for smuggling fuel out of the country, and hours later released video showing the vessel to be a United Arab Emirates-based ship that had vanished in Iranian waters over the weekend.