Trump: US Navy Shot Down Iranian Drone in ‘Defensive Action’

By Zachary Stieber

President Donald Trump said that the U.S. Navy shot down an Iranian drone because it was threatening an American ship.

He said at the White House on July 18 that the drone was threatening the USS Boxer, a navy amphibious assault ship.

“The Boxer took defensive action against an Iranian drone, which had closed into a very, very near distance, approximately 1,000 yards, ignoring multiple calls to stand down, and was threatening the safety of the ship and the ship’s crew,” he said.

“The drone was immediately destroyed,” he added.

Loaded with U.S. Marines and helicopters, the USS Boxer heads to sea for an unscheduled deployment in support of U.S. national interests January 17, 2003 in San Diego, California. The amphibious assault ship is part of the seven-ship Amphibious Task Force West (ATF-W). (Photo by Gregory Badger/U.S. Navy/Getty Images)

Iran has committed a series of hostile acts in the strait, Trump said.

“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,” the president explained.

Other countries should condemn Iran and protect their own ships, Trump added.

“The United States reserves the right to defend our personnel, our facilities and interests, and calls upon all nations to condemn Iran’s attempts to disrupt freedom of navigation and global commerce. I also call on other nations to protect their ships as they go through the strait and to work with us in the future. Thank you very much. I thought you should know that,” he said.

Strait of Hormuz
The Strait of Hormuz, considered an international waterway, cuts through Iranian territorial waters.

The United States earlier on Thursday condemned Iran’s seizure of a foreign tanker that the Middle Eastern country announced it had taken.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told Bloomberg on Wednesday that his country could shut down the Strait of Hormuz but desires to keep it open.

“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,” Zarif said in New York. “It has to be secured. We play a big role in securing it, but it has to be secure for everybody.”

Six tankers have been attacked in or near the strait in the past 12 months but Iran has largely denied responsibility, with Zarif saying: “It’s dangerous because it is very crowded.”

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks during a press conference with his German counterpart Heiko Maas after their talks in Tehran, Iran on June 10, 2019. (Ebrahim Noroozi/AP Photo)

Iran Shot Down American Drone

Last month, Iran shot down an American drone.

Video footage released by the Pentagon showed the U.S. Navy drone falling into the water.

The drone was brought down by an Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps surface-to-air missile fired from a location in the vicinity of Goruk, Iran, according to Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, Commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command.

“This was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset that had not violated Iranian airspace at any time during its mission,” Guastella said in a statement. “This attack is an attempt to disrupt our ability to monitor the area following recent threats to international shipping and free flow of commerce.”

Iran admitted it shot down the drone but said the aircraft was over the country’s airspace while the U.S. said it was in international airspace.

RQ-4 Global Hawk
Members of the 7th Reconnaissance Squadron prepare to launch an RQ-4 Global Hawk at Naval Air Station Sigonella, Italy. (Staff Sgt. Ramon A. Adelan/U.S. Air Force via AP)

After the drone was shot down, President Trump took to Twitter to say: “Iran made a very big mistake!”

In the White House, he told reporters later: “I find it hard to believe it was intentional.”

“I have a big, big feeling” that someone made a mistake, he added. Whoever did it was “loose and stupid,” he said.

“We didn’t have a man or woman in the drone. It would have made a big, big difference,” he said.

Trump announced fresh sanctions against Iran partly in retaliation for the drone shooting.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office on June 24, Trump said he signed an executive order imposing “hard-hitting” sanctions on Iran that will deny Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, his office “and many others” access to financial instruments.

“Sanctions imposed through the executive order … will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader’s office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support,” Trump said.