Iran shot down an unmanned American drone Thursday promising to escalate tensions that have already intensified recently. The U.S. says its Navy MQ-4C Triton drone was on a surveillance mission in the Strait of Hormuz near the site of the recent tanker attacks it accuses Tehran of orchestrating. Iranian state media reported the drone was operating in Iranian airspace, a claim the U.S. disputed, saying the craft was operating in international airspace.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard confirmed the American drone had been targeted intentionally in order to send a message to Washington. “Shooting down the American spy drone had a clear, decisive, firm and accurate message,” Revolutionary Guard commander Gen. Hossein Salami said in Farsi on Thursday. “The message is that the guardians of the borders of Islamic Iran will decisively respond to the violation of any stranger to this land. The only solution for the enemies is to respect the territorial integrity and national interests of Iran.”
The move considerably escalates the standoff between Tehran and Washington; the Trump administration blames Iran for the recent tanker attacks, as well as a string of similar attacks last month. The U.S. also said Iran attempted to shoot down another surveillance drone last week in the Gulf of Oman. This all comes as the Trump administration has effectively killed the 2015 nuclear deal aimed at restraining Iran’s nuclear development, prompting Tehran to threaten to breach the uranium restrictions laid out in the agreement.
Where does this all lead? President Donald Trump has downplayed the impact of the recent oil tanker attacks calling them “very minor” but has been far more aggressive rhetorically, threatening military action in response to potential Iranian nuclearization. Tehran said the shooting down of the American drone is an indication that it is prepared for war. “We do not intend to engage in war with any country, but we are ready for war. Today’s incident is a clear sign of this accurate message,” Salami said.