United States President Donald Trump on Thursday said a US Navy ship destroyed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz after the drone came within about 900 metres of the vessel. Iran, however, said it had “no information” about the loss of a drone, Reuters reported.
The incident came hours after Iran’s Revolutionary Guards seized a foreign tanker and its crew for allegedly smuggling fuel. It also came amid escalating tensions in the oil-rich Gulf region.
The drone had ignored “multiple calls to stand down”, Trump said at an event at the White House. “This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters,” Trump said. “The United States reserves the right to defend our personnel, facilities and interests. The drone was immediately destroyed.” He also urged other countries to condemn Iran and protect their own ships.
However, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters at the United Nations that: “We have no information about losing a drone today.”
His deputy Abbas Araghchi also rejected the US claims. “We have not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else,” Araghchi said in a tweet. “I am worried that USS Boxer has shot down their own UAS by mistake!”
The Pentagon said that the USS Boxer – an amphibious assault ship – had taken “defensive action” against a drone to ensure safety of the ship and its crew on Thursday morning as the Boxer was moving into the Strait of Hormuz. “We do assess it was an Iranian drone,” Commander Rebecca Rebarich, a Pentagon spokesperson, was quoted as saying.
An unidentified US official said the drone was brought down through electronic jamming, according to Reuters.
Tensions between Iran and the United States have steadily increased since last month, when Tehran shot down an American spy drone over the Strait of Hormuz. While Iran claimed the drone had violated its airspace, the US maintained it was shot down over international waters. The incident came days after the United States accused Iran of attacking two of its oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on June 13.
On July 11, the United Kingdom claimed that three Iranian boats tried to impede a British oil tanker in the Gulf. The incident took place while commercial vessel British Heritage was trying to pass through the Strait of Hormuz.