- Video report by ITV News Washington Correspondent Robert Moore
President Donald Trump has warned Iran has "made a very big mistake" after its Revolutionary Guard shot down a US drone. Iran had said it had "no intention" for war with any country but says it is "ready" for a conflict.
The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, Gen. Hossein Salami, said the shooting has sent "a clear message" to America but added Iran does "not have any intention for war with any country, but we are ready for war."
His speech was live on Iranian state television on Thursday, shortly after US and Iranian officials acknowledged the Revolutionary Guard destroyed the drone, amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington.
The US has described the shooting as an "unprovoked attack" in international airspace, but the paramilitary group, which answers only to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the drone entered Iranian airspace near the Kouhmobarak district in southern Iran’s Hormozgan province.
Mr Trump told a press conference on Thursday that Iran had "made a very bad mistake".
A ministry spokesman, Abbas Mousavi, is quoted by the semi-official Tasnim news agency as saying that Iran cannot condone the "illegal trespassing and invading of the country's skies by any kind of foreign flying object."
Mousavi expressed Iran's "strong objection" and added that the "invaders will bear full responsibility".
The U.S. military's Central Command (CENTCOM) has confirmed the drone was an RQ-4 Global Hawk, saying the downing took place in international airspace and describing it as an "unprovoked attack".
A statement from CENTCOM says the unmanned surveillance drone was "shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile system while operating in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz".
The statement further said that "Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false" and that "this was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset in international airspace".
Captain Bill Urban, a US Central Command spokesperson added that "there was no drone over Iranian territory".
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the US against using force on Iran, saying it would have catastrophic consequences.
Speaking on Thursday during a televised call-in show, Putin said US military action against Iran would be a "catastrophe for the region as a minimum".
He added that it would trigger an escalation of hostilities with unpredictable results.
Putin said that Iran has abided by the terms of a nuclear deal despite the US withdrawal, adding that he considers US sanctions against Iran unfounded.
Kouhmobarak is some 750 miles south-east of Tehran and is close to the Strait of Hormuz.
Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency, citing the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard, identified the drone as an RQ-4 Global Hawk.
The downing of the drone comes after the US military previously alleged Iran fired a missile at another drone last week that 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 Mideast 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.