Sunday 25 August 2019

Iranian drone shot down after ‘posing threat’ to US warship

Danger: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Photo: Kena Betancur / AFP/Getty Images
Danger: Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Photo: Kena Betancur / AFP/Getty Images

Steve Holland

President Donald Trump said yesterday that a US Navy ship had “destroyed” an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz after the aircraft threatened the ship, in the latest incident in the Gulf.

Trump told an event in the White House that the drone had flown to within 1,000 metres of the USS Boxer.

“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,” Trump said.

“The drone was immediately destroyed,” Trump said. He gave no more details.

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 if the aircraft was Iranian.

Tensions in the Gulf region are high, with fears that the United States and Iran could stumble into war.

The United States has blamed Iran for a series of attacks since mid-May on shipping around the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important oil artery. Tehran rejects the allegations.

Earlier yesterday, the United States demanded Iran immediately release a vessel it seized in the Gulf, and a US military commander in the region said the United States would work “aggressively” to ensure free passage of vessels through the vital waterway.

Meanwhile, Iran’s foreign minister said the country is capable of shutting the Strait of Hormuz, but doesn’t want to do it.

In an interview with Bloomberg Television in New York, Mohammad Javad Zarif said: “We certainly have the ability to do it, but we certainly don’t want to do it because the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf are our lifeline. It has to be secured. We play a big role in securing it, but it has to be secure for everybody.”

About one-third of the world’s seaborne crude and fuels passed through the Strait of Hormuz last year.

Mr Zarif said the situation was “dangerous”, adding that the last time the area was this crowded, the US shot down an Iranian plane with 290 passengers in 1988.

“We feel the danger and that is why we want to avoid a dangerous escalation, but we cannot give up defending our country,” he said.

Irish Independent

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