American warship destroys Iranian drone in Strait of Hormuz




  • In World
  • 2019-07-18 22:41:36Z
  • By DARLENE SUPERVILLE and ROBERT BURNS
 

WASHINGTON (AP) - A U.S. warship on Thursday destroyed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz after it threatened the ship, President Donald Trump said. The incident marked a new escalation of tensions between the countries less than one month after Iran downed an American drone in the same waterway and Trump came close to retaliating with a military strike.

In remarks at the White House, Trump blamed Iran for a "provocative and hostile" action and said the U.S. responded in self-defense. Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, told reporters as he arrived for a meeting at the United Nations that "we have no information about losing a drone today."

The clash in one of the busiest waterways for international oil traffic highlighted the risk of war between two countries at odds over a wide range of issues. After Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal last year and imposed additional economic sanctions, the Iranians have pushed back on the military front, allegedly sabotaging Saudi and other oil tankers in the Gulf, shooting down a U.S. drone on June 20 and stepping up support for Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Adding to the economic pressure on Tehran, the Treasury Department said Thursday it was imposing sanctions on what it called a network of front companies and agents involved in helping Iran buy sensitive materials for its nuclear program. It said the targeted individuals and entities are based in Iran, China and Belgium.

Trump said the Navy's USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship, took defensive action after the Iranian aircraft closed to within 1,000 yards of the ship and ignored multiple calls to stand down.

"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," Trump said.

The Pentagon said the incident happened at 10 a.m. local time Thursday in international waters while the Boxer was transiting the waterway to enter the Persian Gulf. The Boxer is among several U.S. Navy ships in the area, including the USS Abraham Lincoln, an aircraft carrier that has been operating in the nearby North Arabian Sea for weeks.

"A fixed-wing unmanned aerial system approached Boxer and closed within a threatening range," chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a written statement. "The ship took defensive action against the UAS to ensure the safety of the ship and its crew."

Neither Trump nor the Pentagon spelled out how the Boxer destroyed the drone. CNN reported that the ship used electronic jamming to bring it down rather than hitting it with a missile.

The Iranians and Americans have had close encounters in the Strait of Hormuz in the past, and it's not unprecedented for Iran to fly a drone near a U.S. warship.

In December, about 30 Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessels trailed the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier and its strike group through the strait as Associated Press journalists on board watched. One small vessel launched what appeared to be a commercial-grade drone to film the U.S. ships.

Other transits have seen the Iranians fire rockets away from American warships or test-fire their machine guns. The Guard's small fast boats often cut in front of the massive carriers, running dangerously close to running into them in "swarm attacks." The Guard boats are often armed with bomb-carrying drones and sea-to-sea and surface-to-sea missiles.

Thursday's incident was the latest in a series of events that raised U.S.-Iran tensions since early May when Washington accused Tehran of threatening U.S. forces and interests in Iraq and in the Gulf. In response, the U.S. accelerated the deployment of the Lincoln and its strike group to the Arabian Sea and deployed four B-52 long-range bombers to the Gulf state of Qatar. It has since deployed additional Patriot air defense missile batteries in the Gulf region.

Shortly after Iran shot down a U.S. Navy drone aircraft on June 20, Trump ordered a retaliatory military strike but called it off at the last moment, saying the risk of casualties was disproportionate to the downing by Iran, which did not cost any U.S. lives.

Iran claimed the U.S. drone violated its airspace; the Pentagon denied this.

Zarif said Thursday that Iran and the U.S. were only "a few minutes away from a war" after Iran downed the American drone. He spoke to U.S.-based media on the sidelines of a visit to the United Nations.

At the meeting, Zarif also said Iran would be willing to move up an Iranian parliament ratification of an agreement Tehran made with the International Atomic Energy Association - one that outlined access to Iranian nuclear sites and other information.

A spokesman for Zarif explained that Iran is already abiding by the agreement under the 2015 nuclear deal, but it doesn't have the force of law because it's not supposed to be ratified by the Iranian parliament until 2023. Zarif told reporters that the ratification could come earlier if the U.S. eased sanctions.

A senior administration official responded that Trump has repeatedly said he is willing to have a conversation with Iranian leaders. The official said that if Iran wants to make a "serious gesture," it should immediately stop enriching uranium and negotiate an agreement that includes a permanent end to Iran's nuclear ambitions, including development of nuclear-capable missiles. The official was not authorized to publicly discuss the issue and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

Zarif blamed Washington for the escalation of tensions.

"We live in a very dangerous environment," he said. "The United States has pushed itself and the rest of the world into probably the brink of an abyss." Zarif accused the Trump administration of "trying to starve our people" and "deplete our treasury" through economic sanctions.

Earlier 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.

The announcement cleared up the fate of the missing ship but raised a host of other questions and heightened worries about the free flow of traffic in the Strait of Hormuz, one of the world's most critical petroleum shipping routes. One-fifth of global crude exports pass through the strait.

___

Associated Press writers Ian Phillips in New York, Aya Batrawy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Deb Riechmann in Washington, and Jennifer Peltz at the United Nations contributed to this report.

COMMENTS

More Related News

Trump vows to revive
Trump vows to revive 'Pocahontas' attack against Warren

Warren has largely rebounded from the controversy of her heritage claims, but Trump vows to pounce anew.

A former Republican congressman just apologized for helping put
A former Republican congressman just apologized for helping put 'an unfit con man in the White House'

Former GOP congressman Joe Walsh also called for a Republican primary challenger to take on President Donald Trump in 2020.

Trump urged Israel to ban
Trump urged Israel to ban 'Squad' members Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering the country

Trump tweeted that it would "show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit."

China Signals U.S. Tariff Delay Not Enough to Stop Retaliation
China Signals U.S. Tariff Delay Not Enough to Stop Retaliation
  • World
  • 2019-08-15 14:00:19Z

(Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. China called planned U.S. tariffs on an additional $300 billion in Chinese goods a violation of accords reached by Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping, signaling an American move earlier this week to delay some of those levies was not enough to stave off retaliation.The new 10% tariffs have taken the U.S. and China off the track of resolving their dispute through negotiation, the State Council Tariff Committee, which has overseen tit-for-tat retaliation, said in a short statement on Thursday. China "has no choice but to take necessary measures to retaliate," it said,...

Israel bars U.S. Democratic lawmakers Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib under pressure from Trump
Israel bars U.S. Democratic lawmakers Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib under pressure from Trump

JERUSALEM/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday barred U.S. Democratic congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from making a planned trip to Israel, shortly after U.S. President Donald Trump called on his ally not to let them in. Tlaib and Omar, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, are members of their party's progressive wing and sharp critics both of Trump and of Israel's policy toward the Palestinians.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: World

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.