Iran on Thursday insisted that a US drone had entered its airspace in “full stealth mode,” calling the flight “provocative” and “very dangerous” as it justified its decision to shoot the aircraft down.
The shooting down of the surveillance drone in the strategic Strait of Hormuz Thursday morning raised arleady sky-high regional tensions and sent oil prices upward amid fears of open conflict breaking out.
The Pentagon has denounced the shoot-down as an “unprovoked attack” in international air space, claiming the RQ-4 Global Hawk was some 34 kilometers (21 miles) from Iran when destroyed by a surface-to-air missile
But Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Majid Takht Ravanchi, said in a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and the Security Council that the American drone was engaged in a “clear spying operation” in Iran’s airspace.
He called the flight a “blatant violation of international law” and said Iran acted under Article 51 of the UN Charter, which allows military action in self-defense “if an armed attack occurs.”
“While the Islamic Republic of Iran does not seek war, it reserves its inherent right… to take all appropriate necessary measures against any hostile act violating its territory, and is determined to vigorously defend its land, sea and air,” Ravanchi said.
“This is not the first provocative act by the United States against Iran’s territorial integrity.”
Late Thursday, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced that parts of the drone had been recovered in Iranian territorial waters.
“We don’t seek war, but will zealously defend our skies, land & waters,” Zarif said.
The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said it brought the drone down as it was “violating Iranian air space” over the waters of Hormozgan province.
Zarif provided coordinates to back the claim.
“At 00:14 US drone took off from UAE in stealth mode & violated Iranian airspace,” Zarif tweeted. “It was targeted at 04:05 at the coordinates (25°59’43″N 57°02’25″E) near Kouh-e Mobarak.”
“We’ve retrieved sections of the US military drone in OUR territorial waters where it was shot down.”
The drone downing came as Iran was already accused by Washington of carrying out explosions on oil tankers in the congested Hormuz area. Tehran denies being behind the attacks but has frequently threatened to block the sea lanes used by shipping to move much of the world’s oil exports.
The commander of the US Naval Forces Central Command, Sean Kido, said that a mine allegedly used in one of the attacks matched Iranian weaponry and that incriminating fingerprints had also been collected.
Guterres urged the sides to “exercise maximum restraint” and “avoid any action that could inflame the situation,” his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Thursday.
“The world cannot afford a major conflict in that area,” Dujarric said.
US President Donald Trump initially struck a combative tone toward Iran, but as the overnight incident whipped up fears of open conflict between the United States and its declared foe Iran — sending crude oil prices up more than six percent — Trump moved swiftly to dial tensions back down, suggesting the drone may have been shot in error.