U.S. Was "Locked and Loaded"

To strike Iran

Patrick Gentry
June 21, 2019 - 10:20 am
Categories: 

President Donald Trump says the U.S. was "cocked and loaded" to retaliate against Iran for downing an American drone, but canceled the strikes 10 minutes before they were to be carried out after being told some 150 people could die.

Trump tweeted Friday that the U.S. was ready to "retaliate last night on 3 different sights when I asked, how many will die." He said a general told him 150 people, and he canceled the strikes as "not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone."

Trump tweeted that the U.S. will never allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon. But he says he's in no hurry to respond to the downing of the U.S. surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz.

He says U.S. sanctions are crippling the Iranian economy and that more are being added.

The head of the Revolutionary Guard's aerospace division says a manned U.S. spy plane was near the drone it shot down but Iran chose not to target it.

Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh made the comment Friday at a news conference attended by The Associated Press in Tehran.

The Guard shot down a U.S. Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk on Thursday.

Hajizadeh said: "At the same moment, another spy aircraft called a P8 was flying close to this drone. That aircraft is manned and has around 35 crew members. Well, we could have targeted that plane, it was our right to do so, and yes it was American, but we didn't do it. We hit the unmanned aircraft."

The U.S. military's Central Command did not immediate respond to a request for comment.

A Vatican cardinal is begging the U.S. and Iran to step back from escalating tensions in the Persian Gulf, calling instead for political friendship.

In a tweet Friday, Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson wrote: "On our knees, let's pray USA & IRAN do not unsheathe the weapons of war!" He followed it by tweeting: "Let nations cultivate political friendship and not mutual demonization. The former builds peace, the latter kills it."

Tensions have been heightened after Iran shot down a U.S. military surveillance drone over the Strait of Hormuz. The U.S. said it made plans for limited strikes on Iran in response, but then called them off.

Turkson heads the Holy See's development and migrant department, and long headed the Vatican office of justice and peace.

European Council President Donald Tusk is denying that the EU has been too passive in its response to rising tensions between the United States and Iran.

After chairing a summit of EU leaders in Brussels Friday, Tusk said that "sometimes it's better not to intervene. The biggest problems in our history (were) always provoked by too active politics, not too passive."

Tusk says the leaders "follow the situation closely and are very concerned about the developments in the Gulf region."

But he says there was "no reason to prepare a specific European statement on this" at the summit.

The EU is urging restraint on both sides and the bloc's top diplomat is in regular contact with the two. The EU is struggling to uphold the Iran nuclear deal, which is at risk of collapse due to U.S. sanctions.

Indian officials say their navy has deployed two warships to the Gulf of Oman amid rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

Indian navy spokesman Dalip Kumar Sharma says the ships Chennai and Sunayna have deployed to the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman to undertake maritime security operations, escort Indian merchant ships and "coordinate between stakeholders."

Indian military aircraft are also conducting aerial surveillance in the area.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has reached out to foreign leaders to convince them that the apparent attacks on the key Mideast shipping route is a problem for the world at large. Iran is India's third-largest source of imported oil. Pompeo is visiting India next Tuesday, ahead of G20 talks in Osaka, Japan.

The long-haul carrier Emirates, based in Dubai near the Strait of Hormuz, says it is "rerouting all flights away from areas of possible conflict" after Iran shot down a U.S. military drone.

Emirates made the announcement in a statement on Friday.

It added: "We are carefully monitoring the ongoing developments and are in close contact with the relevant government authorities with regards to our flight operations, and will make further operational changes if the need arises."

Emirates is a government-owned airline. It's low-cost sister carrier FlyDubai said it has also "adjusted" some of its flight paths.

The shootdown of the U.S. Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk has escalated already heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

Major international airlines say they have rerouted their flights to avoid the area after the Federal Aviation Administration issued a warning to pilots early Friday.

Singapore Airlines and Malaysia Airlines are joining other airlines in rerouting flights away from the Strait of Hormuz area after Iran shot down a U.S. military drone there.

Singapore Airlines said on Friday that some of its flights will take "slightly longer routings" to avoid the area because of the ongoing tensions. It said the safety of its customers was its top priority and that it continuously reviews the areas that it overflies.

Malaysia Airlines said it has rerouted its flights to and from London, Jeddah and Medina because "safety is of utmost importance." It said it is closely monitoring the situation and will be guided by various assessments, including security reports and advice from airspace control authorities.

British Airways, Australia's Qantas and Dutch carrier KLM earlier announced they will reroute flights away from the Strait of Hormuz.

German Chancellor Angel Merkel says European countries are still hoping that there can be a political solution to the tensions between the United States and Iran.

Merkel told reporters in Brussels on Friday that European governments' foreign policy advisers had met on the sidelines of a European Council meeting to discuss the tensions in the region.

She says "naturally we are worried about the situation and we're counting on diplomatic negotiations for a political solution to a very tense situation."

Merkel did not elaborate further on her comments.

The low-cost airline FlyDubai says it has "adjusted" some of its flight paths after the U.S. warned about the risk of commercial jetliners being attacked near the Strait of Hormuz following Iran's shootdown of an American military surveillance drone.

FlyDubai told The Associated Press in a statement on Friday that it "adjusted some of the existing flight paths in the region as a precautionary measure." It said it continues to monitor the situation.

The downing of the U.S. Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk has escalated already heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

Major international airlines say they have rerouted their flights to avoid the area after the Federal Aviation Administration issued a warning to pilots early Friday.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokeswoman says Germany welcomes reports that President Donald Trump apparently decided against immediate military strikes in retaliation for Iran's downing of an American reconnaissance drone.

The spokeswoman was asked on Friday about reports that Trump approved military strikes and then decided against launching them the night before.

Martina Fietz says that "regarding President Trump, I can say that there are numerous statements and indications that the American president would like to avoid a military confrontation and we naturally welcome that."

Merkel has been calling for both sides to deescalate the tensions in the region and Fietz reiterated that "we welcome any steps that can contribute to de-escalation."

The head of the Revolutionary Guard's aerospace division says Iran had warned a U.S. military surveillance drone several times before launching a missile at it.

Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh made the comment in an interview with Iranian state television on Friday. Debris from what Iranian authorities described as pieces of the U.S. Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk lay behind him.

Hajizadeh told state TV: "Unfortunately they did not answer."

He added Iran collected the debris from its territorial waters. The U.S. military says that the drone was in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz when it was shot down.

The shootdown of the drone has escalated already heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

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