Iran vows to ‘destroy anyone who violates its sovereignty’

The stand-off between Washington and Tehran continues to intensify. The Islamic Republic announced that it has shot down an American military drone, which according to the regime’s Revolutionary Guards – the IRGC – ‘the unmanned aerial vehicle was targeted when it infiltrated Iran’s southern Hormozgan province during a reconnaissance mission.’

According to the IRGC Commander in Chief Hossein Salami, the downing of the American drone was a clear message to Tehran’s enemies that anyone who violates Iran’s sovereignty “will be destroyed.” In his words: “The downing of the American drone was a clear and precise message to America, and the message is this: Those who defend the borders of the Islamic nation of Iran will react in a total and decisive way to any intrusions by foreign elements on our land. Our borders are our red line. An enemy that violates our borders will not return and will be destroyed. The only way our enemies can stay safe is for them to respect the territorial integrity, national interest, and national security of the great Iranian nation.”

While the U.S. military initially denied the report, saying: “No U.S. aircraft was operating in Iranian airspace today;” An American official, who spoke to the international London-based news agency Reuters, confirmed that “a U.S. Navy MQ-4C Triton had been shot down,” yet insisted that the unmanned aerial vehicle was targeted “in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.”

It is important to mention that the U.S. military has in recent days confirmed an attempt by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards to shoot down a U.S. drone last week, as well as a successful shootdown of one drone on the 6th June by the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels that operate in Yemen. In addition to the shooting down of the spy vehicle, the Iranian proxy in Yemen claimed responsibility for another attack yesterday, in which it fired a cruise missile at a power station in Saudi Arabia’s Al-Shuqaiq city. No additional information was made available regarding this attack and Saudi Authorities did not immediately respond to TV7’s request for comment.

Meanwhile in Iraq, a rocket struck the site of a residential and operations headquarters of several global major oil companies, including U.S. giant ExxonMobil, near the country’s southern city of Basra. Three people were reportedly wounded, and damage was caused to the facilities. While there was no immediate claim of responsibility, the mayor of the Iraqi town of Zubair, laid the blame on Iranian backed militias; saying: “We cannot separate this incident from regional developments, that are going on now, meaning the U.S.-Iranian conflict. Unfortunately, these incidents and this conflict started to affect Iraq, and this is what the Iraqi government was warning of. Iraq should be removed from these incidents, but some (Iranian-backed) groups take advantage of this situation, groups which are connected with regional powers take advantage of this situation and fire rockets toward different and specific companies and maybe towards American companies aiming to send regional messages but not local messages.”

Despite the growing number of direct attacks at American installations, the United States continues to insist that it does not seek a military escalation with the Islamic Republic. The U.S. State Department Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook, stated: “We are not looking for military action. We have kept our foreign policy squarely in the guardrails of economic pressure and diplomatic isolation.” / “No one should be uncertain about our desire for peace or our readiness to normalize relations, should we reach a comprehensive deal. We have put the possibility of a much brighter future on the table for the Iranian people and we mean it.”

Now back to Tehran, where President Hassan Rouhani is evidently keen on thwarting an apparent shift in Europe’s attitude toward Iran. In a speech broadcast on state television, Rouhani underscored that Iran will not negotiate with the United States under pressure, while insisting that his country’s decision to revoke some of its commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal was a “minimum measure that Tehran could adopt, a year after Washington withdrew from the accord and re-imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic. Rouhani said: “What we have done, despite incorrect portrayal of it by some countries, is the minimum set of measures Iran can take. Iran is acting within the agreement, when other parties have either not complied with their obligations or reduced their commitments.”

With regard to growing tensions in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, Rouhani emphasized that Iran has historically always protected the area, and maintains its natural legitimacy to continue to do so. According to the Iranian President: “Throughout history, going back to a thousand years, we have protected this waterway. Today the naval vessels of the armed forces of the Islamic republic are present not only in the Gulf of Oman, but in other shipping waterways to guarantee free passage of shipping and to fight terrorism. Today, the party that is waging economic terrorism, is issuing demands against the Islamic Republic of Iran.”

Meanwhile in Paris; the top diplomats of France and Germany held a meeting, discussing what a French official described to TV7 as “growing concerns of an imminent escalation between the United States and Iran.” Following their meeting, French Foreign Minister Jean-Eves Le Drian urged restraint from both Washington and Tehran, saying: “We are worried about the escalation of actions and words. We feel the announcement made by the Iranian authorities about possibly calling into question their commitment to the Vienna Convention is preoccupying and we believe it is not in the interest of Iran.” / “We also consider the U.S.’ decision to break with the Vienna Convention is not a good thing and that its maximum pressure campaign is contributing to tensions so we want to unify our efforts so that there is a de-escalation process that starts. There is still time and we hope all the actors show more calm. There is still time, but only a little time.” The German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who visited the Islamic Republic last week, warned that while diplomatic efforts to alleviate the intensity of the situation contributed to de-escalating the situation stating that “this continues to be a serious situation. The risk of war in the Gulf has not been averted and we need to do everything we can so it doesn’t come to this. That’s why we are talking to all sides. I was in Tehran, Iran and we are also talking with the Americans. It will be important to contribute a de-escalating factor to the dialogue and to find solutions. At any rate this is the time for diplomacy first and that’s what we are committed to.”