UPDATED 1:47 PM PT — Thursday, June 20, 2019
Tensions between the U.S. and Iran continue to ratchet up after news an American surveillance drone was shot down by Iranian forces in the Strait of Hormuz. It marks the first time Iran’s military has directly attacked U.S. military forces.
Iran said the drone violated its territorial airspace, which is a claim the U.S. military has vehemently denied. Instead, the U.S. said the incident was an “unprovoked attack in international airspace.”
In a tweet shortly after the missile strike, President Trump said Iran has made “a very big mistake,” but didn’t indicate what retaliation could be made.
Iran made a very big mistake!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 20, 2019
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the situation in the Middle East could “hardly be more fraught,” describing missile attacks in Saudi Arabia carried out by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. He said the Senate could not pick a worse time for “ill-considered resolutions that would hurt key relationships in the Middle East.”
“Let’s not cut ourselves off from our partners, let’s not undercut the administration at a time of such delicate diplomacy and tension with Iran,” he stated. “So, I would ask my colleagues to vote down these resolutions.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the shooting a “dangerous situation,” and called on colleagues not to be reckless.
“I think it’s a dangerous situation..the high-tension wires are up in the region…we have to be strong and strategic about how we protect our interests, we also cannot be reckless in what we do,” she stated. “I don’t think the President wants to go to war, there’s no appetite for going to war in our country.”
Internationally, Russian President Vladimir Putin said a U.S. attack in the region would be “catastrophic” and the violence would possibly lead to an increase of refugees from the region.
“But I think for those who would make such attempts it would also lead to sad consequences,” said the Russian leader. “It is hard to predict what can follow application of military force.”
The Chinese Foreign Ministry defended Iran by saying the Islamic Republic has fulfilled its obligations concerning nuclear weapons, and has asked all parties to respect Iran’s “reasonable demands.”
“We have been calling on all parties concerned to keep level-heads and exercise restraint, and avoid taking measures that could lead to further escalation of the situation,” stated Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang. “In particular, we have pointed out that the countries concerned should change the practice of exerting maximum pressure on Iran.”
According to recent reports, Tehran claimed it would exceed the uranium enrichment limits agreed on during the Iran Nuclear Deal in response to a recent Pentagon plan to deploy an additional 1,000 troops to the region.