In Dubai, an Iranian surface-to-air missile shot down a US surveillance drone on Thursday in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz in an “unprovoked attack,” U.S. officials said, disputing Iranian reports that the aircraft was over its territory.
The downside came amid the rising tensions between the US and Tehran after Trump administration decided to withdraw America from the 2005 nuclear agreement. America has accused for the recent attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf.
“U.S. Central Command can confirm that a U.S. Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (or BAMS-D) ISR aircraft was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system while operating in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz at approximately 11:35 p.m. GMT on June 19, 2019,” Navy Capt. Bill Urban, U.S. Central Command spokesman, said in a statement.
Brent crude jumped on the news in early morning trading, up 2.86%, or $1.77, at $63.59 a barrel at 7:50 a.m. ET. The U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate was up 3.55%. The Strait of Hormuz is a critical conduit for 30% of the world’s seaborne oil.
Things started going south when Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards announced on its website, Sepah News. The Iranian outlet claimed the Revolutionary Guards had shot down a U.S. “spy drone” over the southern province of Hormozgan.
“The downing of the American drone was a clear message to America. … Our borders are Iran’s red line and we will react strongly against any aggression,” Major Gen. Hossein Salami, the recently appointed chief of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, told Iranian state TV. “Iran is not seeking war with any country, but we are fully prepared to defend Iran.”
A U.S. Centcom spokesperson later responded to the charges saying that “No U.S. drone was operating in Iranian airspace today.”
“Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false,” the Centcom statement said. “This was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset in international airspace.”
The BAMS-D is an RQ-4A Global Hawk High-Altitude, Long, Endurance (HALE) unmanned aircraft system.
The Pentagon describes it as capable of providing “real-time intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions over vast ocean and coastal regions.”The downing follows a series of rapid escalations in the last week, including attacks on foreign merchant tankers in the Gulf of Oman that Washington has blamed on Tehran. While both countries’ leaders maintain that they do not want war, the rise in tensions in a region bristling with military hardware has prompted fears of an accident or miscalculation triggering a wider conflict.
Tensions have spiked between the U.S. and Iran in the year since the Trump administration withdrew from the nuclear deal and reimposed sweeping economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic.