US-Iran tensions escalate


File photo : US President Donald Trump and Iran President Hassan Rouhani

File photo: US President Donald Trump and Iran President Hassan Rouhani

The United States has sought a UN security council meeting amid escalating tensions with Iran. This came after a US drone was shot down by Iranian forces earlier this week.

Iran warned the United States on Saturday that any aggression against the Islamic republic would have serious consequences for US interests across the Middle East.

President Donald Trump said on Friday that the United States was “cocked & loaded” to strike Iran but pulled back at the last minute as it would not have been a “proportionate” response to Tehran’s shooting down of an unmanned US drone.

The downing of the drone — which Tehran insists violated its airspace, a claim Washington denies — has seen tensions between the two countries spike after a series of attacks on oil tankers the US has blamed on Iran.

Iran confirmed on Thursday that it brought down the unmanned aircraft in Iranian airspace. The US, however, said the drone was in the international territory when it was hit by a surface-to-air missile.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump on Friday said he called off a retaliatory strike on Iranian targets that would have killed 150 people, calling it a disproportionate response to the downing of the American drone.

On Friday, Trump confirmed the report and tweeted: “10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone”.

“I am in no hurry,” Trump said. He said he had called off strikes after being told that 150 people would die.

The attacks on three Iranian sites were planned in response to the shooting down of a US unmanned drone this week. Iran said on Thursday that its elite Revolutionary Guard shot down an RQ-4 Global Hawk drone as it flew over southern Iran and that the incident sent a “clear message to America”.

Last year, the US unilaterally pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear activities.