News ID: 254641
Published: 0238 GMT June 21, 2019

Iran says has ‘indisputable’ proof of US drone intrusion

Iran says has ‘indisputable’ proof of US drone intrusion

International Desk

General: Iran refrained from hitting manned US plane

Trump says he aborted strike to spare casualties

Pelosi: No appetite for wanting to go to war in our country

Iran said Friday it had "indisputable" evidence a US drone it downed had intruded into its airspace, as it called in the Swiss ambassador, whose country has represented US interests since the severance of diplomatic relations in the aftermath of the Islamic revolution of 1979, to issue a formal protest.

Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi provided the ambassador with "indisputable" evidence the drone had violated Iranian airspace, the Foreign Ministry said.

Araqchi "reiterated that Iran does not seek a war and conflict in the Persian Gulf", but warned: "The Islamic Republic of Iran would not hesitate for a moment to decisively defend its territory against any aggression."

Iranian television later broadcast images of "debris" of the downed drone recovered from Iran's territorial waters.

The downing of the drone – which Iran says was within its airspace but the US insists was above international waters– has seen tensions between the two countries spike further after a series of attacks on tankers.

The Pentagon denounced the downing as "unprovoked," claiming the navy drone was 34 kilometers (21 miles) from Iran when destroyed by a surface-to-air missile.

It published a map showing the flight path of the drone, which indicated it travelled outside of Iranian waters and included a photograph showing it was at the coordinates (25°57'42"N 56°50'22"E) when it was downed.

Both Washington and Tehran said the downing of the drone occurred at 4:05 a.m. Thursday in Iran, or 7:35 p.m. Wednesday in Washington. The drone “was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system while operating in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz,” the United States Central Command said in a statement. “This was an unprovoked attack on a US surveillance asset in international airspace.”

Late Thursday, the US Defense Department released additional imagery to support its case that the drone never entered Iranian airspace. But the department incorrectly called the flight path of the drone the location of the shooting down and offered little context for an image that appeared to be the drone exploding in midair.

It was the latest attempt by the Pentagon to try to prove that Iran has been the aggressor in a series of international incidents including the attacks on oil tankers which Iran denies.

Zarif provided different coordinates for the downing of the drone by a domestically-manufactured Khordad 3 air defense battery.

"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."

Iran issued "numerous" warnings before shooting down the aircraft, Brigadier General Qader Rahimzadeh, the second-in-command of Iran's Khatam al-Anbia Air Defense Base, said on Friday.

The last warning was issued at 3:55 a.m., ten minutes before the shoot-down, IRGC Aerospace Commander Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh said.

Hajizadeh also said Friday Iran refrained from shooting down a US plane with 35 people on board that was accompanying the American spy drone.

"Along with the US drone, there was also an American P-8 plane with 35 people on board," Hajizadeh told reporters.

"This plane also entered our airspace and we could have targeted it, but we did not because our purpose behind shooting down the American drone was to give a warning to terrorist American forces," Hajizadeh added.

IRGC Commander Major General Hossein Salami said Thursday the shooting down of the US drone has sent “a clear message” to America.

Salami also said that Iran does “not have any intention for war with any country, but we are ready for war.”

The Iranian military also released video that showed the moment a Khordad 3 air defense system of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Forces fired a surface-to-air missile at the RQ-4A Global Hawk maritime spy drone.

Iran’s ability to target and destroy the high-altitude American drone, which was developed to evade the very surface-to-air missiles used to bring it down, surprised some Defense Department officials, who interpreted it as a show of how difficult Tehran can make things for the United States as it deploys more troops and steps up surveillance in the region.

In a letter on Thursday, Iran's Ambassador to the UN Majid Takht-Ravanchi told the United Nations that the international community needs to confront Washington's destabilizing actions.

“Iran condemns, in the strongest possible terms, this irresponsible and provocative wrongful act by the United States, which entails its international responsibility,” he wrote in a letter addressed to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the UN Security Council on Thursday.

The envoy wrote that Iran had the right to defend its sovereignty according to the world body's Charter.

Guterres, commenting on Friday on the situation in the Persian Gulf, said “I have only one strong recommendation: nerves of steel”, UN spokeswoman in Geneva Alessandra Vellucci said.


Strike halted


US President Donald Trump said Friday that the US was “cocked and loaded” to retaliate against Iran for downing the American drone, but canceled the missile strikes 10 minutes before they were to be executed after being told some 150 people could die.

Trump tweeted Friday that he’s in no hurry to respond to the downing of the US drone.

His statement was the latest indication that he does not want to escalate the clash with Iran, but he didn’t rule out a future US strike.

 Trump has repeatedly said he does not favor war with Iran unless it is to stop the country getting a nuclear weapon – something Iranian leaders insist they are not pursuing.

But Trump critics say his policy of "maximum pressure" -- including abandonment of an international deal on Iran's nuclear activities, crippling economic sanctions and deployment of extra troops to the region – make war ever more likely.

One of Trump's biggest opponents, the Democratic speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, warned that "there's no appetite for wanting to go to war in our country".

Congresswoman Jackie Speier accused the Trump administration of pursuing certain policies meant to provoke Iran and push the US into war with the Islamic Republic.

"The actions by this administration are so provocative that they are creating an environment that will destine us to go to war," the member of US Democratic House Intelligence Committee warned.

Speier blamed the Trump administration for current tensions with Iran, saying a majority of US House members are against any act of war.

"We are provoking them," she added, referring to Iran. "We are taunting them. And it is not in the interests of the American people, nor our service members, to be going into a war that is not required."

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has close relations with Iran's leadership, said US military retaliation "would be a disaster for the region."

AFP, AP, Reuters and Press TV contributed to this report













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