83°F
weather icon Clear

Trump says Iran made ‘very big mistake’ in shooting down US drone

Updated June 20, 2019 - 10:12 am

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump declared Thursday that “Iran made a very big mistake” in shooting down a U.S. drone but suggested it was an accident rather than a strategic error. Asked about a U.S. response, he said repeatedly, “You’ll find out.”

A few minutes earlier, a senior U.S. military officer said Iran shot down the huge, unmanned American aircraft over international waters in an attempt to disrupt U.S. efforts to monitor the Persian Gulf area where Trump has blamed Iran for attacking shipping vessels.

But Trump said he could not imagine the missile attack on the drone was intentional and he had a feeling “a general or somebody” mistakenly ordered the attack.

Top administration officials and lawmakers were at the White House in the afternoon for a briefing.

The White House invited House and Senate leaders of both parties and Democrats and Republicans on the House and Senate intelligence and Armed Services committees met with the president.

Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Army Secretary Mark Esper, who Trump has said he’ll nominate as defense secretary, also arrived for the meeting.

Some members of Congress expressed alarm at the possibility of open conflict in the Middle East, especially after Trump’s morning tweet that said only, “Iran made a very big mistake.” But when asked about it later, he merely described the incident as a “new wrinkle” in escalating tensions between the U.S. and Iran — a “fly in the ointment.”

Still he said the U.S. “will not stand for it.”

Shortly before Trump spoke, at a photo opportunity with visiting Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Air Force Lt. Gen. Joseph Guastella, commander of U.S. Central Command air forces in the region, took a different tack from Trump’s idea of an accidental shootdown.

“This attack is an attempt to disrupt our ability to monitor the area following recent threats to international shipping and free flow of commerce,” he said.

Revolutionary Guard celebrates

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard shot down a U.S. surveillance drone on Thursday amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington over the collapsing nuclear deal with world powers, American and Iranian officials said, though they disputed the circumstances of the incident.

The Guard said it shot down the RQ-4 Global Hawk drone over Iranian airspace, while the U.S. said the downing happened over international airspace in the Strait of Hormuz. The different accounts could not be immediately reconciled.

Previously, the U.S. military alleged that Iran had fired a missile at another drone last week that was responding to the attack on two oil tankers near the Gulf of Oman. The U.S. blames Iran for the attack on the ships; Tehran denies it was involved.

Tensions increase

The attacks come against the backdrop of heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran following President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from Tehran’s nuclear deal a year ago.

Separately, Saudi Arabia said on Thursday that Yemen’s Iranian-allied Houthi rebels launched a rocket targeting a desalination plant in the kingdom the previous night. The White House said Trump was briefed about that attack.

Iran has quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium and threatened to boost its enrichment closer to weapons-grade levels, trying to pressure Europe for new terms to the 2015 nuclear deal.

In recent weeks, the U.S. has sped an aircraft carrier to the Mideast and deployed additional troops alongside the tens of thousands already in the region. From Yemen, the Houthis have launched bomb-laden drones into neighboring Saudi Arabia.

All this has raised fears that a miscalculation or further rise in tensions could push the U.S. and Iran into an open conflict, some 40 years after Tehran’s Islamic Revolution. Thursday’s drone incident marks the first direct Iranian-claimed attack on the U.S. amid the crisis.

“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.

Putin urges caution

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for caution, warning any war between Iran and the U.S. would be a “catastrophe for the region as a minimum.”

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders says Trump was briefed Wednesday night and again Thursday morning about the incident, adding that the administration will keep in touch with U.S. lawmakers.

Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, which answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said it shot down the drone at 4:05 a.m. Thursday when it entered Iranian airspace near the Kouhmobarak district in southern Iran’s Hormozgan province. Kouhmobarak is about 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) southeast of Tehran and close to the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran used its air defense system known as Third of Khordad to shoot down the drone — a truck-based missile system that can fire up to 18 miles (30 kilometers) high, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.

Loss more than $100M

Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency, citing the Guard, identified the drone as an RQ-4 Global Hawk, which cost over $100 million apiece and can fly higher than 10 miles and stay in the air for over 24 hours at a time. They have a distinguishable hump-shaped front and an engine atop. Their wingspan is bigger than a Boeing 737 passenger jet.

The Guard described the drone as being launched from the southern Persian Gulf but did not elaborate. U.S. RQ-4 Global Hawks are stationed at the Al-Dhafra Air Base in the United Arab Emirates, near the capital, Abu Dhabi. AP journalists saw the drones on the base’s tarmac during a March 2016 visit by then-Vice President Joe Biden.

The CENTCOM statement said the RQ-4A Global Hawk maritime surveillance drone was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile while in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which 20% of all global oil moves.

The U.S. has been worried about international shipping through the strait since the limpet mine attacks in May and June.

“Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false,” CENTCOM said, adding that “this was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset in international airspace.”

In Iran, Salami, speaking to a crowd in the western city of Sanandaj, described the American drone as “violating our national security border.”

“Borders are our red line,” Salami said. “Any enemy that violates the borders will be annihilated.”

Iran’s Foreign Ministry separately protested the drone, saying it entered Iranian territory.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Trumps Strength is also a Weakness - Video
One of Donald Trump’s greatest strengths — his ability to shape national narratives — is also a great weakness.
Tax the Rich Bus Tour makes a stop in Las Vegas - Video
The Tax the Rich Bus has stopped in Las Vegas as part of its summer tour. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris castigated President Donald Trump’s merit-based immigration plan, saying it was “short-sighted” and overlooked the cultural significance of family, during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “We cannot allow people to start parsing and pointing fingers and creating hierarchies among immigrants,” Harris told Asian Pacific Islander leaders at a Chinatown restaurant, one of two appearances she made Thursday.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Nevada
California Senator Kamala Harris meets with One APIA Nevada, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies empowering Asian Pacific Islander Nevadans. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ben Carson talks housing (Audio only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Ben Carson visits the RJ (Full Audio Only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Nevada
After campaigning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 in Henderson, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke with the Review-Journal.
Student serenades Mayor Carolyn Goodman at swearing in
Students from the school she founded, The Meadows School, serenaded Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman during a swearing in ceremony for her third and final term. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
Cory Booker speaks at UNLV
US Senator Cory Booker speaks at UNLV during a Young Democrats meet and greet on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
THE LATEST
Kamala Harris’ campaign opens Nevada HQ in Las Vegas

Two senior officials with Sen. Kamala Harris’ presidential campaign discussed the importance of Nevada as a diverse early state and shared some insights on the candidate’s preparations for the second national debate.

Nevada’s governor wants Yucca earthquake review

Gov. Steve Sisolak and all six members of Nevada’s congressional delegation have written to Energy Secretary Rick Perry, asking him to order a review of Yucca Mountain in light of recent California earthquakes.

Turkey ousted from US fighter program for buying Russian missiles

WASHINGTON — In a major break with a longtime ally, the Trump administration on Wednesday said Turkey is being kicked out of an American-led fighter aircraft program because it is buying a Russian air defense system that would aid Russian intelligence.