Donald Trump said the Navy amphibious assault ship USS Boxer took down and “destroyed” an Iranian drone that was “approximately 1,000 yards” from the vessel. Speaking at the White House on Thursday afternoon, the president called on other nations to defend against Iranian attempts to “disrupt freedom of navigation and global commerce” and to “protect their ships as they go through the [Strait of Hormuz].”
He described the USS Boxer as having taken “defensive action” after the drone ignored repeated calls to stand down. The drone was threatening the safety of the US warship and its crew, the president said.
The latest tense development arrived after Iran recently shot down a US drone it said was flying over Iran.
The US also demanded Iran immediately release a vessel it seized in the Gulf on Thursday shortly before the USS Boxer struck down the drone.
“The United States strongly condemns the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy’s continued harassment of vessels and interference with safe passage in and around the Strait of Hormuz,” a State Department spokesperson said in a statement sent to Reuters. Iran said it had seized the ship because it was smuggling oil.
“We do this (inspecting ships) every day,” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted saying on Iran’s Press TV.
“It was a small ship used to smuggle one million litres — not one million barrels — of crude oil,” he reportedly added.