A U.S. warship on Thursday destroyed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz after it threatened the ship, President Donald Trump said. The incident marked a new escalation of tensions between the countries less than one month after Iran downed an American drone and Trump came close to retaliating with a military strike.
In remarks at the White House, Trump blamed Iran for a “provocative and hostile” action and said the U.S. responded in self-defense.
He said the Navy’s USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship, took defensive action after the Iranian aircraft closed to within 1,000 yards of the ship and ignored multiple calls to stand down.
"This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters," Trump told the group of assembled reporters. "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."
“The United States reserves the right to defend our personnel, facilities and interests and calls upon all nations to condemn Iran’s attempts to disrupt freedom of navigation and global commerce,” Trump said.
The Pentagon said the incident happened at 10 a.m. local time Thursday in international waters while the Boxer was transiting the waterway to enter the Persian Gulf.
“A fixed-wing unmanned aerial system approached Boxer and closed within a threatening range,” chief Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman said in a written statement. “The ship took defensive action against the UAS to ensure the safety of the ship and its crew.”
With tensions between the US and Iran still high, Iran's paramilitary Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has seized a foreign oil tanker, accusing the crew of smuggling oil.
Iranian officials said the United Arab Emirates-based oil tanker had 12 foreign crew members on board and was involved in smuggling one million liters of fuel from Iranian smugglers to foreign customers.
A US Defense Department official said earlier this week they had "suspicions" that Iran seized the oil tanker when it turned off its tracker in the Strait of Hormuz.
Meanwhile, the US is sending hundreds of troops to Saudi Arabia. A New York Times report cites Defense Department officials who confirmed about 500 soldiers will be deployed to the country.
It's part of the Trump administration's response to growing tensions with Iran.
The US and its allies believe Iranian proxies are behind the recent bombing attacks against several tankers in the Persian Gulf and oil-producing facilities in Saudi Arabia.
The Iranians also shot down a US drone last month and have broken the 2015 nuclear deal with western countries by enriching uranium to weapons-grade levels.
Since the Trump administration canceled the Iran nuclear deal and ramped up sanctions against the terrorism-sponsoring regime, Iran has lashed out in numerous ways, attacking foreign oil tankers and increasing uranium enrichment.
Iran is trying to force Europe to offer it a new deal without US involvement, and to allow the Islamic regime to sell its crude oil abroad.