Iran Denies That U.S. Downed Its Drone in Strait of Hormuz

Iranian officials on Friday denied reports that the American military had downed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz, a day after President Trump and Pentagon officials first made that claim.

A spokesman for the Iranian Armed Forces, in rejecting Mr. Trump’s assertion, also said that the “unfounded claim” had been intended to increase tensions in the Persian Gulf, according to Tasnim, an official Iranian news agency.

Pentagon officials on Thursday said a small, uncrewed Iranian drone came within “threatening range” of a United States Navy ship in the strait, a strategic Persian Gulf waterway that has been a flash point in the simmering conflict between Tehran and Washington.

President Trump, during a ceremony in the White House on Thursday, said that the downing of the drone had been an act of self-defense and “the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran.”

Iranian officials provided a different narrative.

“Contrary to the false claim rooted in Trump’s illusions, all unmanned aerial vehicles (U.A.V.s) of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz have returned safely to their bases after completing their scheduled reconnaissance and patrol missions,” Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi said in a statement on Friday quoted by Tasnim and other Iranian news outlets.

Other Iranian officials offered similar statements, denying the loss of any Iranian drone in the area. On Thursday night — just hours after Mr. Trump made the claim of a downed drone — Iran’s foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, told reporters at the United Nations that Tehran had “no information about losing a drone.”

Seyed Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, said in a Twitter posting that, “We have not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else,” before adding that perhaps American forces had shot down their own drone.

The United States said the drone — a high-altitude Global Hawk unmanned aircraft — had stayed in international airspace.

Tehran maintained that the American drone had ventured into airspace eight miles off the country’s coast, inside the 12 nautical miles from the shore that Iran claims as its territorial waters.

Hours before the report on Thursday from the United States of the downing of the Iranian drone, the Iranian news media reported that the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps had detained a foreign oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz.

It said the vessel had been smuggling fuel, just days after a United Arab Emirates vessel with the same name disappeared in the Persian Gulf.

Source: NYT

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