Iran claims to have shot down US spy drone

CNN reporter gets up-close look at attacked tanker

Iran’s state-run Press TV said the US-made RQ-4 Global Hawk was shot down in the country’s southern coastal province of Hormozgan, near the Strait of Hormuz.

CNN cannot independently verify the details in the Iranian state media report.

Press TV quoted Cap. Bill Urban, a spokesman for the US Central Command, as saying “no US aircraft were operating in Iranian airspace” Thursday. CNN has reached out to the Pentagon for comment.

The Trump administration said Monday it would send 1,000 additional troops and more military resources to the Middle East in response to what Washington called “hostile behavior by Iranian forces that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region.”

US officials blame Iran for conducting attacks against oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, and the US President himself last week accused Iran of being behind the provocation, telling Fox News: “It was them that did it.”

Tehran has categorically denied the accusations, and President Hassan Rouhani said the country does not seek war but “is determined to show its hopefulness and vitality and defeat the enemy’s plot.”

Iran has previously been accused of targeting US drones.

In the hours before the attack on the two tankers earlier this month, the Iranians spotted a US drone flying overhead and launched a surface-to-air missile at the unmanned aircraft, a US official told CNN.
In 2014, the Iran’s armed forces revealed what it claimed was a copy of a stealth American drone “commandeered” by Tehran in 2011.
Northrop Grumman, the weapons manufacturer that builds the RQ-4 Global Hawk, describes the aircraft as a “premier provider of persistent intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information.”

It can fly more than 30 hours at a time at a maximum altitude of 60,000 feet (about 18,000 meters) and with a range of 12,300 nautical miles.

Since joining the US Air Force fleet in 2001, the Gobal Hawk has amassed more than 250,000 flight hours in support of military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, North Africa and the Asia-Pacific.

This file photograph shows an RQ-4 Global Hawk landing at Misawa Air Base in Japan on May 24, 2014.

Relations between Iran and the United States have deteriorated since May 2018, when Washington chose to leave the 2015 nuclear deal the Iranian regime negotiated with world powers and reimpose crippling sanctions on Iran’s economy.

Trump and many conservatives in the US had long criticized the deal, which allowed Iran to stockpile limited amounts of enriched uranium and heavy water produced in that process, exporting any excess.

Doing so has become extremely difficult after the US revoked waivers that allowed Iran to export those excess stockpiles, effectively forcing Iran to halt enrichment or ignore the limits, which it is now doing.

After a year of waiting, Rouhani announced last month that it would reduce its “commitments to the deal,” but not fully withdraw from it.

Iran then announced this week that it would resume nuclear enrichment activities, accelerating uranium enrichment to 3.7% — above the 3.67% mandated by the nuclear deal. Enrichment at this level is enough to continue powering parts of the country’s energy needs, but not enough to construct a nuclear bomb.

CNN’s Daniel Allman contributed to this report.

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