Rep. Kucinich: Downed drone plane 'a step' toward war with Iran

Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) on Monday said the fallout from a U.S. spy aircraft that crashed in Iran shows the American-led mission in Afghanistan is destabilizing the entire region.

Tensions have flared between Washington and Iran after an American RQ-170 unmanned aircraft went down on Iranian soil. The Iranians claim it was shot down; U.S. officials have countered that it malfunctioned. Iran says its response to such events will no longer be limited to its own territory.

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“If the American claims that the drone drifted into Iran after a mechanical malfunction are true, it serves as further evidence that our presence in Afghanistan is destabilizing the region,” Rep. Kucinich (D-Ohio) said in a statement. “Technical and mechanical malfunctions are a fact of life and exacerbated by the harsh conditions of the Afghan terrain. As long as the United States continues to operate in Afghanistan the unintended results of our actions will continue to destabilize the region.

But if Iran really did shoot it down, Kucinich said, “the damage is even more serious.”

“The United States has no right to violate Iranian airspace; doing so would be a violation of international law and a serious provocation,” Kucinich said. “If the [Obama] administration is trying to stumble into war with Iran, this alleged violation would be a step in that direction.”

The Pentagon said there's no evidence that the plane was shot down.

"At this point, there's absolutely no indication whatsoever that the aircraft was shot down," Pentagon spokesman George Little said.

Rhetorical saber-rattling in Washington has picked up in recent weeks since the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a report that concluded Tehran is closer than ever to fielding a nuclear weapon.

Members of both political parties have called for the White House to take more aggressive steps to halt Iran’s nuclear arms program. So far, however, the Obama administration remains committed to the same sanctions-based approach it has been pursuing for some time.

—Updated at 3:21 p.m. with a Pentagon statement.