United States President Donald Trump said the military was ready to retaliate after the downing of a drone, but that he called off the strikes at the last moment.
While Iran said it, too, showed restraint, choosing not to attack a manned U.S. aircraft accompanying the drone.
CGTN’s Jim Spellman reports.
U.S. warships were in position, fighter jets ready to go and just minutes away from a military strike on Iran when President Donald Trump changed his mind and called off the attack.
A day earlier, Iran shot down an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone which Iran said violated its airspace. Iranian state TV aired footage of the drone wreckage. The Pentagon claims it was over international waters.
Iranian officials said they showed restraint, warning the U.S. before firing and only targeting the unmanned aircraft.
“At the same moment when this aircraft was being tracked, another spy aircraft called P8 was flying close to this drone,” said General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard’s Aerospace Divison. “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.”
With tensions running high near the Strait of Hormuz, commercial airlines have begun avoiding the area and rerouting flights.
The international community, including China, has largely responded by calling for calm.
“We have repeatedly called on all parties concerned to maintain rationale and restraint and avoid taking measures that may lead to further escalation of the situation,” said Lu Kang, a spokesperson with China’s Foreign Ministry.
President Trump wants to begin high-level negotiations with Iran and strike a new nuclear deal. But leaders in Tehran have so far rejected that, saying they won’t respond to what they call “economic terrorism” coming from the United States.
Kaveh Afrasiabi provides insights on why Iran struck down a US military drone
CGTN’s Mike Walter spoke with Kaveh Afrasiabi for more on current political climate between Iran and the United States. Afrasiabi is an expert on Iran’s foreign affairs – and has written extensively on Iran and the Middle East.