Iran says 'ready for war' after downing US drone
The chief of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said Tehran's move to strike down a US drone in Iranian territory offered a "clear, decisive, firm and accurate message" to Washington.
General Hossein Salami, commander of the Iranian Guards warned Iran would "decisively respond to the violation of any stranger to this land".
Iran "does not have any intention for war with any country but we are ready for war", he warned.
The comments came after Iran's Revolutionary Guards said it shot down a US "spy drone" after it violated Iranian airspace.
"The US-made Global Hawk surveillance drone was brought down by its Air Force" in the country's southern coastal province of Hormozgan, the Revolutionary Guard added, according to the English-language Press TV.
State television did not provide pictures of the drone though the US confirmed its downing.
The incident comes at a time of heightened tensions between Iran and the US.
Washington has accused Iran of being behind a series of operations against oil tankers in highly sensitive Gulf waters.
Tehran has denied involvement and instead suggested Washington could be the author of the attacks, using the operation to justify force against Iran.
Hormozgan borders the Strait of Hormuz, where the tanker attacks took place.
The relationship between Tehran and Washington has been particularly strained since the US last year quit the multilateral 2015 nuclear deal and reimposed sanctions on Iran.
The US has bolstered its military presence in the Middle East and blacklisted Iran's Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist organisation.
But Tehran's top security official said Wednesday there was no reason to worry about a conflict breaking out.
"There will be no war (between Iran and the US) since there is no reason for a war," said rear admiral Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, quoted by the official news agency IRNA.
Meanwhile, as tensions rise between the Israeli ally and its arch-foe Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned the Jewish state's enemies not to test it Wednesday, his office said.
"I hear our neighbours from the north, south and east threatening our destruction," Netanyahu said in a statement released by his office after he observed a large-scale military exercise in the north of the country.
"I say to our enemies: The Israeli army has very great destructive power. Don't test us."
Israeli public radio said that Netanyahu convened his security cabinet for a meeting that lasted close to four hours "in the shadow of the tension in the Persian Gulf".
The radio said that it was the second time in a week the senior ministers had met, after a session on Sunday.
Israeli news site Walla! said the ministers also discussed Iran's announcement Monday that from 27 June it would break the limit on the size of its uranium stockpile set by a 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
Netanyahu's office did not immediately confirm or deny that a security cabinet meeting took place on Wednesday.
However, the US seemed to decrease the volume on the drums of war this this week with Trump downplaying the recent attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman.
"So far, it's been very minor," Trump told Time magazine in an interview released on Monday.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo followed suit during a visit to US Central Command in Florida stressing that while he is confident the American military is acting to confront any challenge, Donald Trump does not want war with Iran.
The "right thing," he said "is to continue to work to convince the Islamic Republic of Iran that we are serious and to deter them from further aggression in the region".
Minutes after his remarks, Trump announced that acting Defence Secretary Patrick Shanahan had decided not to pursue Senate confirmation to take the post on a permanent basis. Shanahan, who said he was stepping down for family reasons, had not been formally nominated for the position.
Meanwhile Tuesday, Iran President Hassan Rouhani said that while "we do not wage war with any nation", Iranians will withstand mounting US pressure and emerge victorious.
His comments came after Iran announced on Monday that it could soon start enriching uranium to just a step away from weapons-grade levels, a challenge to Trump's assurances to allies that the US withdrawal from the landmark nuclear deal last year made the world a safer place.
The Pentagon responded by ordering the additional troops to the region, including security forces for additional surveillance and intelligence-gathering.
The US accuses Iran of attacking two tankers in the Gulf; the Iranians deny responsibility. With details murky and no one owning up to the attacks, the Pentagon released new photos intended to bolster its case.
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