Tensions flare in Persian Gulf after drone shot down and tanker seized

World Today

Tensions are growing over the free flow of traffic through a critical oil shipping route.

President Donald Trump said a U.S. warship has destroyed an Iranian drone over the Strait of Hormuz.

This follows Iran’s claim that it seized a foreign tanker and its crew of 12 in the same body of water – just south of Larak Island near the coast of Iran – for smuggling fuel.

CGTN’s Jim Spellman reports.

A U.S. Navy warship has shot down an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz Thursday.

U.S. President Donald Trump said the drone came within about 900 meters of the USS Boxer, an amphibious assault ship seen here earlier this week. He said the drone ignored calls to stand down.

“The drone was immediately destroyed. This is the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters. The United States reserves the right to defend our personnel, our facilities and interests and calls upon all nations to condemn Iran’s attempts to disrupt freedom of navigation and global commerce,” U.S. President Donald Trump said.

Trump’s announcement comes as Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps acknowledged it seized a foreign tanker and its 12-member crew last Sunday.

Iran released video of the seizure that showed the Panamanian-flagged Riah tanker, which may have connections to the United Arab Emirates. Iran said it was caught smuggling a million liters of oil out of Iran.

“This ship, which is capable of carrying two million liters of fuel, was en route with 12 foreign crew to deliver the smuggled fuel received from Iranian boats to foreign ships in further regions,” an Iranian News Network anchor said.

The U.S. State Department is calling for the immediate release of the ship and crew.

Tensions have been mounting since the U.S. pulled out of the 2015 Iran nuclear accord last year. President Donald Trump wants a broader deal that extends for a longer period and addresses Iran’s ballistic missile program. The U.S. is using sanctions in an attempt to force Iran to the negotiating table.

“Lot of problems with that deal that was made and we can do something quickly or we can take our time. I’m in no rush,” Trump said.

Tensions in the region have been rising. Last month, Iran shot down a U.S. drone, and the U.S. blames Iran for a series of tanker attacks. Iran denies involvement.

The U.S vows to keep the Strait of Hormuz open but said it does not want a military conflict.

The U.S. is also sending an additional 500 troops to be stationed in Saudi Arabia.