According to the New York Times, US President Donald Trump has approved military action against Iran in retaliation for a US drone, but failed to carry it out. It is not clear whether Trump changed his mind in the short term or whether his government had any concerns, the newspaper wrote.
There had been no rockets fired when the withdrawal order came. Trump’s approved military strikes had „a handful of Iranian targets,“ including radar and missile targets. They should have been executed just before dawn on Friday to limit the risk to the Iranian military or civilians.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards shot down a US reconnaissance drone off the coast of Thailand on Thursday. Tehran said the unmanned aerial vehicle violated Iran’s airspace, which Washington rejects. The incident raised international concerns about escalating the conflict between the US and Iran.
Dispute over shooting site
Trump described the shooting of the drone on Thursday as a „very big mistake“. When asked about a possible US response, he simply said, „You’ll see!“ The US President also suggested that human error could be behind the kill: „I can not believe that was the intention.“
Washington and Tehran argued Thursday about where exactly the drone was shot down. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Jawad Sarif reiterated on Twitter that the unmanned aerial vehicle had violated Iranian airspace and published the alleged coordinates of the launch site. He also said that debris from the drone had been found in Iranian territorial waters.
The US strongly opposed. The US Department of Defense has published a map showing the drone’s flight route. Accordingly, the drone flew not over Iranian territorial waters, but was in international airspace. A photo was also published with the alleged coordinates at the time of shooting. These differ from the coordinates published by Sarif.
US ban on Persian Gulf
Meanwhile, the US aviation authority prohibited the country’s passenger aircraft from overflighting the area. For the time being, US aircraft are unlikely to cross Iran-controlled airspace over the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman, the Federal Aviation Administration said Thursday.
Reason are „increased military activities and intensified political tensions in the region“. These would present a „risk“ to US civil aircraft, there was also the risk of „misjudgments“ and confusion. „The launch of an unmanned aerial vehicle by an Iranian anti-aircraft missile makes clear the risk to US civil aviation,“ the agency warned.
The drone launch took place one week after the alleged attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman. The Japanese tanker „Kokuka Courageous“ and the „Front Altair“ from Norway had made emergency calls in the Gulf of Oman last Thursday after explosions had occurred at the waterline at the tankers. The US blames Iran for the alleged attacks, Tehran rejects the allegations.