Trump's message on what the U.S. does now regarding Iran: 'You'll find out'
In the White House on Thursday afternoon, Donald Trump remarked that Iran’s shooting down of a U.S. surveillance drone might not just have been “a mistake” in the sense that it is likely to generate a response, but a mistake in the sense that it may have been a literal mistake by one individual “loose and stupid” Iranian military officer. “I find it hard to believe it was intentional,” Trump said.
However, while that statement might seem to be a moderation of the drum-beat rhetoric from earlier in the day, Trump went on to insist that “this drone was in international waters, we have it documented, documented scientifically, not just words.” And despite what seemed like a temporizing statement, when asked whether the United States would strike Iran in retaliation for the drone shoot-down, Trump’s only response was, “You’ll find out.”
U.S. military spokesmen originally identified the drone as an MQ-4C Triton, but later statements said that it was a similar RQ-4A Global Hawk. The military is also repeating the assertion that the drone was shot down “while operating in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.”
By international agreement, Iran’s airspace is considered to extend no more than 12 miles beyond its borders. The Strait of Hormuz is just over 30 miles wide. Both the U.S. and Iran have displayed maps in briefings indicating the point of the shoot-down. Not surprisingly, the U.S. map shows this as outside Iran’s airspace. Iran’s briefing showed the location of the drone as inside Iran’s airspace.
Both maps could be true in a sense—the drone may have penetrated Iranian airspace, but returned to international space before being shot down. Clarification will have to wait until the military releases detailed path data for the Global Hawk’s flight.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin called a potential U.S. attack on Iran “a catastrophe for the Middle East.”