The Iranian government on Friday disputed a claim by the United States that the American Navy shot down an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz — a position that again brought a steely warning from U.S. President Donald Trump.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyyed Abbas Araqchi said Tehran is not missing a drone “in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else.”
Trump said late Thursday the USS Boxer shot the drone out of the sky as it passed within 1,000 feet of the warship, after it ignored calls to stand down.
“The United States reserves the right to defend our personnel, our facilities and interests,” Trump said.
Friday, he again insisted the drone was destroyed — and issued another stern warning to Tehran.
“We have the greatest ships — the most deadly ships, we don’t want to have to use them,” he told reporters at the White House. “We hope for their sake they don’t do anything foolish. If they do, they will pay a price like nobody’s ever paid.”
National security adviser John Bolton said there’s “no question” the drone taken by the USS Boxer belonged to Iran, and said it posed a threat.
Iran shot down a U.S. drone in the region last month, and the United States retaliated by imposing new economic sanctions. Those moves followed multiple attacks that targeted oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, for which U.S. officials blamed Tehran.
Iran Brig. Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi told state-run PressTV Trump is trying to escalate tensions.
“Unlike Trump’s delusional and groundless claim, all drones belonging to the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, including the one mentioned by the U.S. president, have returned to their bases safe and sound after carrying out their scheduled surveillance and control operations,” Shekarchi said.
Araqchi suggested a possibility in which the Navy shot down a U.S. drone by mistake.
Later Friday, Iran aired video footage on state television it said proved the downed drone belonged to the United States.