A spokesman for Iran’s Supreme National Security Council said on Thursday the United States has no right to retaliate for Iran’s attack on an unmanned drone, repeating Iran’s claim the drone was shot down over its territory instead of international airspace.
“The U.S. has no right for a military response after Iran reacted to this infringement. Iran is determined to offer a firm response to any aggression,” council spokesman Kelvan Khosravi said in an interview with Russia’s Sputnik News.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif claimed on Thursday night that Iran has recovered debris from the drone in its territorial waters. Zarif claimed the drone “took off from the UAE [United Arab Emirates] in stealth mode and violated Iranian airspace.”
The Global Hawk drone is not a stealth aircraft – it is large, slow, expensive, and primarily intended to defend itself by flying at high altitudes. Defense analysts have questioned the wisdom of relying on reconnaissance aircraft that are highly vulnerable to ground attack. The U.S. Navy has said the drone destroyed by Iran is one of the older models in its inventory.
Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, chief of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) aerospace division, claimed on Friday that Iran could have shot down a manned American plane that was operating near the drone but chose not to.
“At the same moment, another spy aircraft called a P8 was flying close to this drone. That aircraft is manned and has around 35 crew members. Well, we could have targeted that plane, it was our right to do so, and yes it was American, but we didn’t do it. We hit the unmanned aircraft,” Hajizaden said.
The Iranian military used one of its Twitter accounts to publish a video clip that purportedly shows the U.S. drone getting shot down by a surface-to-air missile:
🔴 فوری | ویدئو اختصاصی از هدف قرار گرفتن پهپاد آمریکایی RQ-4 (یا MQ-4C) توسط سامانه سوم خرداد. این پهپاد در ساعت 4:05 صبح امروز پس ورود به حریم هوایی ایران رهگیری و منهدم شد.#ویدئو #پدافند_هوایی #سوم_خرداد #عملیات #سپاه_پاسداران #هوافضا pic.twitter.com/Sds71mCOMH
— رسانه نیروهای مسلح ایران (@irMilitaryTube) June 20, 2019
Iranian state media on Friday released photographs that purportedly show some of the drone debris it has recovered.
An Iranian air defense commander told the state-run Tasnim news service the drone was destroyed after several warnings were transmitted. He accused the United States of “repeatedly violating international laws and crossing identified borders” due to America’s “aggressive temper and inattention to international laws.”
Iran on Friday summoned the Swiss ambassador, who handles U.S. diplomatic interactions in the absence of an American embassy, to lodge a formal protest and present what Iran claimed was “indisputable” evidence the drone violated its airspace.
Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, Majid Takht Ravanchi, wrote a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in which he condemned the “irresponsible and provocative wrongful act by the United States, which entails its international responsibility.”
“While the Islamic Republic of Iran does not seek war, it reserves its inherent right, under Article 51 of the United Nations Charter, to take all appropriate necessary measures against any hostile act violating its territory, and is determined to vigorously defend its land, sea, and air,” Ravanchi wrote.
In an interview with National Public Radio on Friday, Ravanchi claimed Iran was “left with no other option” but shooting the drone down.
“This was an act of provocation on [the] part of United States, and we asked the international community to demand from the United States to stop these sort of actions, which is somehow endangering international peace and security,” he said.
Ravanchi said a military conflict between the United States and Iran would be “hell, which will be felt by everybody,” but Iran will continue using force to protect its “territorial integrity.”