Trump: ‘Iran made a big mistake’
The United States is likely to take military action against Iran in the coming days for Tehran’s downing a U.S. drone in international airspace on Wednesday near the Strait of Hormuz.
The Central Command said an RQ-4 Global Hawk drone aircraft was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system while operating in international airspace around 7:35 p.m. on Wednesday.
President Trump suggested retaliation for the attack is coming. “Iran made a very big mistake,” the president tweeted.
Later during an Oval Office meeting with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau, Trump was asked about a military strike against Iran and repeated that Iran “made a very big mistake” because the drone was flying over international waters.
“Iran made a big mistake. This drone was in international waters, clearly,” he said. “We have it all documented scientifically, not just words. And they made a very bad mistake.”
Trump suggested that the drone was mistakenly shot down and noted that “I have a big, big feeling” an Iranian air defense operator erred in attacking the drone, someone “loose and stupid who did it.”
Asked what will come next, the president said “You’ll find out.”
Air Force Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, commander of Central Command air forces, said the RQ-4 drone was conducting surveillance over the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz in international airspace near recent IRGC attacks on two tankers. The drone was struck by an IRGC surface-to-air missile fired from a base near Goruk, Iran, he said.
“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.”
The three-star general also said that Iran falsely claimed the aircraft was shot down over Iran. “The aircraft was over the Strait of Hormuz and fell into international waters.”
“Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false,” said CENTCOM spokesman Capt. Bill Urban. “This was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset in international airspace.”
Tensions have increased with Iran since last week when the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Tehran’s shock troops, were caught removing a limpet mine from the hull of a Japanese tanker that had been hit by other mines the United States has concluded came from Iran.
Another tanker also was attacked with the magnetic mines last week.
Several earlier Iran-linked attacks were carried out, including mines on the ships, an attack on a Saudi pipeline, a rocket firing near a U.S. embassy, and an attack on a NATO convoy in Afghanistan.
White House National Security Adviser John Bolton said in an interview last week the United States is set to retaliate for Iranian military provocations.
“The National Security Strategy lists Iran as one of the four top threats and we just need to be sure we’ve got the capability to deter them from these kinds of activities, threatening American lives and facilities, threatening the international oil market,” Bolton said when asked about the Pentagon’s plan to dispatch around 1,000 additional troops to the region.
“They would be making a big mistake if they doubted the president’s resolve on this,” Bolton added, echoing the president’s tweet.
The Pentagon last month deployed the aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS Abraham Lincoln to the Persian Gulf, along with a bomber strike group of B-52 bombers.
These forces likely would be called on to carry out any future retaliatory strikes.
Iran earlier threatened to exceed the limits placed on uranium enrichment in response to the Trump administration jettisoning the 2015 nuclear deal.
Bolton said last week that Iran is ramping up uranium production.
“There’s no doubt in the minds of IAEA that uranium enrichment has increased, it’s not just the more sophisticated centrifuges, but the pace of production, the pace of enrichment has picked up,” Bolton said. “And so it threatens the various limits in the JCPOA that the Iranians have said they’ll violate, they’ll exceed beginning July the 8th.”
One model for a U.S. retaliatory strike could be the Reagan administration’s Operation Nimble Archer in 1987. American naval forces attacked two Iranian oil platforms in the Persian Gulf in response to an Iranian missile attack on an oil tanker.
Full article: U.S. Expected to Strike Back for Iran’s Downing of Drone (Washington Free Beacon)