Tensions are rising in the Middle East after an American drone was shot out of the sky in international airspace. Iran has said that it is ‘ready for war’ after shooting the aircraft, further adding to the friction between the countries. The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has said the shooting sent ‘a clear message’ to America. General Hossein Salami also said Iran ‘does not have any intention for war with any country, but we are ready for war’. His speech was carried live on Iranian state television, shortly after US and Iranian officials acknowledged the shooting down of the drone.
The two nuclear superpowers have not agreed exactly where the drone was shot down, with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard claiming it was over their airspace. However, US officials claimed the RQ-4 Global Hawk was flying in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz. The incident comes amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington over its collapsing nuclear deal. Last week, it was also claimed that Iran fired a missile at another drone last week which responded to the attack on two oil tankers near the Gulf of Oman.
The US blames Iran for the attack on the ships, which Tehran denies. The attacks come against the backdrop of heightened tensions between the US and Iran following Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers a year ago. Iran recently has quadrupled its production of low-enriched uranium and threatened to boost its enrichment closer to weapons-grade levels, trying to pressure Europe for new terms to the 2015 deal. In recent weeks, the US has sped an aircraft carrier to the Middle East and deployed additional troops to the tens of thousands already in the region. Mysterious attacks also have targeted oil tankers as Iranian-allied Houthi rebels launched bomb-laden drones into Saudi Arabia. All this has raised fears that a miscalculation or further rise in tensions could push the US and Iran into an open conflict, some 40 years after Tehran’s Islamic Revolution.