US requests UN Security Council meeting after Tehran downs drone
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US requests UN Security Council meeting after Tehran downs drone

Diplomats say closed-door session to be held Monday after Trump cancels strike on Iran at last moment because it was not a ‘proportionate’ response

File: A UN Security Council meeting on June 6, 2019. (Eskinder Debebe/UN)
File: A UN Security Council meeting on June 6, 2019. (Eskinder Debebe/UN)

UNITED NATIONS — The United States has requested a closed-door UN Security Council meeting on Iran and the latest developments in the Gulf, diplomats said Friday.

The discussions would touch on both the recent attacks against oil tankers in the Gulf and the Iranian downing of a US spy drone, a diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

Another diplomat told AFP the meeting would take place Monday afternoon.

President Donald Trump said Friday he had planned air strikes on Iranian targets after Tehran shot down a US reconnaissance drone, but opted at the last minute to scrap the operation because it was not a “proportionate” response.

Washington also has accused Iran of responsibility for carrying out attacks on tankers in the congested shipping lanes heading out of the Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz.

Tehran denies any involvement.

Trump said Friday the US was “cocked & loaded” to strike Iran but pulled back at the last minute because it would not have been a “proportionate” response to Tehran shooting down an American drone.

Head of the Revolutionary Guard’s aerospace division Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh looks at debris from what the division describes as the US drone which was shot down on Thursday, in Tehran, Iran, Friday, June 21, 2019 (Meghdad Madadi/Tasnim News Agency/via AP)

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

Under pressure to respond to the high-stakes incident near the strategic Strait of Hormuz, Trump said the US was “cocked & loaded to retaliate” on Thursday night by hitting “3 different sites,” but scrapped the strikes just 10 minutes before they were carried out.

“I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General,” the president tweeted, saying he concluded it would not have been “proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.”

“I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go,” he wrote.

The US president had struck a combative tone in his initial public comments Thursday about Iran shooting down the Global Hawk surveillance aircraft, but as the pre-dawn incident whipped up fears of open conflict, Trump moved to dial back tensions.

Iran vowed Friday to defend its borders after downing the drone, with the commander of the aerospace arm of its elite Revolutionary Guards saying the aircraft was warned twice before it was engaged over the Gulf of Oman.

And it denied a report that Trump had warned it via Oman of an impending attack unless it was willing to negotiate.

In this photo released by Iran’s state-run IRIB News Agency, an oil tanker is on fire in the sea of Oman, June 13, 2019. (IRIB News Agency via AP)

The US special representative on Iran, Brian Hook, said Tehran was “responsible for escalating tensions in the region” and accused it of rejecting diplomatic overtures to deescalate the situation.

“Iran needs to meet diplomacy with diplomacy, not military force,” Hook told reporters in Saudi Arabia.

Trump has repeatedly said he does not favor war with Iran unless it is to stop the country getting a nuclear weapon — something Iranian leaders insist they are not pursuing.

But critics say his policy of “maximum pressure” — including abandonment of an international deal to regulate Iran’s nuclear activities, crippling economic sanctions and deployment of extra troops to the region — make war ever more likely.

The sanctions have caused economic hardships for Iranians, and the fear of war has now been added to the mix.

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