Trump: 'No doubt' US shot down Iranian drone

Trump: 'No doubt' US shot down Iranian drone
© UPI Photo

President TrumpDonald John TrumpRepublicans aim to avoid war with White House over impeachment strategy New York Times editorial board calls for Trump's impeachment Trump rips Michigan Rep. Dingell after Fox News appearance: 'Really pathetic!' MORE said Friday that there was "no doubt" that the U.S. military shot down an Iranian drone after denials from Tehran and threatened to respond to any further provocations from the country.

Speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, Trump maintained his Thursday statement that the United States shot down the drone as a defensive action after the aircraft ignored calls to stand down. 

"They shot down the drone," he said, adding that Washington will respond to any further provocations.

ADVERTISEMENT

"We have the greatest people in the world, we have the greatest equipment in the world, we have the greatest ships — the most deadly ships, we don't want to have to use them, but they're the most deadly ships ever conceived. And we hope for their sake they don't do anything foolish. If they do, they will pay a price like nobody's ever paid a price," he said.

Trump's national security adviser, John BoltonJohn BoltonThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by AdvaMed — House panel delays impeachment vote until Friday Senate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial Conservative group hits White House with billboard ads: 'What is Trump hiding?' MORE, added that “there’s no question that this was an Iranian drone," which he said presented a threat.

The president also said that he was not concerned that the incident may set off a clash with Iran.

Iran on Friday denied Trump's claim and said the drone was not Iranian.

“We have not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else,” Iran's deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, tweeted. “I am worried that USS Boxer has shot down their own [unmanned aerial system] by mistake!”

The U.S. military on Thursday shot down the drone after the aircraft came within “threatening range” of the amphibious ship USS Boxer in the Strait of Hormuz, according to a Pentagon statement. 

Trump said at the time that the drone "was immediately destroyed," and that it was "the latest of many provocative and hostile actions by Iran against vessels operating in international waters."

The incident threatens to inflame already strained relations between Washington and Tehran, which worsened last month after Iran shot down a U.S. surveillance drone it said was flying over its airspace.

Trump nearly launched a military strike in response, but later said he called it back at the last minute when he decided the estimated death toll would have been too high.

A U.S. official also told reporters on Friday that the United States will destroy any Iranian drones that fly “too close” to its ships in the strait and has evidence that the drone was Iranian, Reuters reported.