Iran Says It Won't Hold Back Next Time U.S. Crosses Border

A senior Iranian politician has warned that his country would unleash a more powerful response should the United States repeat last week's alleged border violation.

Speaking to a crowd in the city of Qom, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani referenced the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' destruction of an advanced U.S. Navy RQ-4A Global Hawk spy drone that they claim breached Iranian airspace, something the Pentagon has denied. He called the move "an experience that they should not violate our borders," but warned, "if they do, the armed forces will give them a stronger reaction," according to the semi-official Tasnim News Agency.

He noted that Iran has not invaded a country since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that ousted the pro-West monarchy and brought to power its current clerical leadership, arguing that the "U.S. government is the main cause behind the disruption of peace and security in the region and the whole world," as the semi-official Mehr News Agency reported.

The outlet also cited Revolutionary Guards Navy commander Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri saying that the drown shoot down "showed that the Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran has thorough knowledge about the movements of enemies in the region." He added: "We hope that enemies of the country will grasp that the IRGC will spare no efforts to defend its marine, land and airspace and will respond to all threats powerfully."

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General Amir Ali Hajizadeh (C), head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards aerospace division, speaks to media next to debris from a downed U.S. drone reportedly recovered within Iran's territorial waters and put on display in the capital Tehran, June 21. Hajizadeh claimed a P-8 Poseidon accompanied the drone, but he opted not to attack it because 35 people were on board. Meghdad Madadi/Tasnim News/AFP/Getty Images

The U.S. and Iran have presented conflicting narratives of what happened to the RQ-4A, which left an airbase in the United Arab Emirates and flew over the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman before being hit by a surface-to-air missile fired by the Revolutionary Guards aerospace force. Iran claims to have used its indigenous 3rd Khordad defense system, a configuration of the Raad system, to take out the state-of-the-art surveillance device after it breached the Iranian border, while the U.S. has contended that the drone remained within international airspace.

Moscow has recently weighed in on Tehran's side of the debate, with Russian National Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev telling his U.S. and Israeli counterparts Tuesday in Jerusalem that the Russian Defense Ministry had information to prove the U.S. drone violated Iran's sovereignty. Many other international powers have simply called for an immediate de-escalation to tensions running exceptionally high in the Persian Gulf.

In response to the drone's destruction, Trump initially ordered strikes against targets in Iran, but suspended the command at the last minute, later explaining that he felt the estimated 150 casualties of such an operation was not "proportionate" to the loss of an unmanned surveillance craft. He instead opted for new sanctions against the Islamic Republic, targeting its supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Trump's decision led to more heated words between the two governments as the U.S. leader suggested he could wage "a short war" against Iran without "boots on the ground." Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif replied Thursday, telling Trump on Twitter that "Sanctions aren't alternative to war; they ARE war" and that the idea of a "short war" with Iran is "an illusion."

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President Donald Trump holds an umbrella as he arrives at the Osaka International Airport for the G-20 Summit, June 27 in Osaka, Japan. Iran was anticipated to be a major topic of discussion between the U.S. leader and other heads of state calling for de-escalation. Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images

Trump was not the only one to have shown restraint last week, however. Revolutionary Guards Aerospace commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh claimed Friday that a U.S. Navy Poseidon P-8 accompanied the RQ-4A in crossing into Iran's airspace. He told state media that "due to the fact that there were 35 people on board, we did not destroy it."

The most recent spike in tensions came a week after explosions hit Japanese and Norwegian oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman—the second such attacks to target foreign-flagged commercial vessels in these strategic waters in about a month. The U.S. and some of its allies have blamed these acts both this month and last on Iran, though the U.A.E. recently distanced itself from assigning responsibility for the May incident, in which one of its own ships were involved, citing a lack of evidence.

Iran has denied playing any role in the recent attacks, suggesting the U.S. may be instigating false flag operations to further disrupt regional stability. Frictions between the two longtime rivals have continued to mount since President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the 2015 nuclear deal and imposed strict sanctions designed to undermine Tehran's economy.

The European Union, France, Germany and the United Kingdom have joined fellow signatories China and Russia in calling on the U.S. to return to the accord and lift unilateral sanctions preventing the international community from normalizing trade with Iran.