Asked earlier in the day about a US response to the Iranian attack, the President said pointedly, “You’ll soon find out” and “this country will not stand for it, that I can tell you.”

By Ian Horswill

Posted on June 21, 2019

“Iran made a very big mistake!” tweeted US President Donald Trump and the world is ever more fearful that a military strike will be made against the Middle Eastern country.

Trump was referring to Iran shooting down a US surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz and Iran’s Foreign Ministry condemning the alleged intrusion into its airspace, warning of the consequences of such “provocative” measures.

“Any such violation of Iran’s borders are strongly condemned … We warn of the consequences of such illegal and provocative measures,” ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said.

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Asked earlier in the day about a US response to the attack, the President said pointedly, “You’ll soon find out” and “this country will not stand for it, that I can tell you.”

Although he added: “I find it hard to believe it was intentional, if you want to know the truth. I think that it could have been somebody who was loose and stupid that did it.”

Trump gathered top national security officials at the White House to discuss options after it was confirmed the drone had been shot down by Iran.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News that “we had a good briefing” and that the Trump administration would engage in “measured responses.”

In a statement, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy and Ranking Members Michael McCaul of Texas (House Foreign Affairs), Devin Nunes of California (House Intelligence), and Mac Thornberry of Texas (House Armed Services) all condemned Iran’s “direct attack,” and demanded “measured” retaliation.

“Iran directly attacked a United States asset over international waters,” the Republicans wrote. “This provocation comes a week after they attacked and destroyed two commercial tankers in international waters. There must be a measured response to these actions. President Trump and his national security team remain clear-eyed on the situation and what must be done in response to increased Iranian aggression. In Congress, we stand ready to support our men and women in uniform, our country, and our allies in the region.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a separate statement after the briefing calling for calm.

“In light of the targeting of an unmanned US drone by Iran, it is essential that we remain fully engaged with our allies, recognise that we are not dealing with a responsible adversary and do everything in our power to de-escalate.

“This is a dangerous, high-tension situation that requires a strong, smart and strategic, not reckless, approach,” adding that the Trump administration legally would need to obtain Congress’ approval before taking military action.

A Northrop Grumman Global Hawk unmanned aircraft
A drone was shot down by Iran in the latest act of provocation.

The downing of the huge, unmanned aircraft , which Iran portrayed as a deliberate defence of its territory rather than a mistake, was a stark reminder of the risk of military conflict between US and Iranian forces as the Trump administration combines a “maximum pressure” campaign of economic sanctions with a buildup of American forces in the region.

The sanctions were imposed after Trump withdrew the US from a nuclear agreement with Iran. Iran called the sanctions “economic terrorism.” By reimposing sanctions that had been lifted under the Obama-era deal, Trump policies have crippled Iran’s economy, sending inflation above 30 per cent and devastating oil revenues.

Declassified image. Photo: US Navy
The hull penetration/blast damage sustained from a limpet mine attack on the starboard side of motor vessel M/T Kokuka Courageous, while operating in the Gulf of Oman, June 13, 2019. Photo: US Navy

The other world powers who remain signed on to the nuclear deal have set a meeting to discuss the US withdrawal and Iran’s announced plans to increase its uranium stockpile for June 28.

Citing Iranian threats, the US recently sent an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf region and deployed additional troops alongside the tens of thousands already there. All this has raised fears that a miscalculation or further rise in tensions could push the US and Iran into an open conflict 40 years after Tehran’s Islamic Revolution.

“We do not have any intention for war with any country, but we are fully ready for war,” Revolutionary Guard commander Gen. Hossein Salami said in a televised address.