Russia has military intelligence that shows that a U.S. drone was in Iranian air space when it was shot down by Iran last week, Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of Russia’s Security Council, said on Tuesday.
Speaking at a briefing for journalists in Jerusalem, Patrushev said evidence presented by the United States alleging Iran was behind attacks on ships in the Gulf of Oman was poor quality and unprofessional.
Speaking at a briefing for journalists in Jerusalem, Nikolai Patrushev also said evidence presented by the US alleging Tehran was behind attacks on oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman was of poor quality and unprofessional.
Mr Patrushev’s comments came after the US imposed new sanctions targeting Iran’s supreme leader and other senior officials, which US president Donald Trump said was a “proportionate response to Iran’s increasingly provocative actions”.
The US government claims one of those actions was the “unprovoked” shooting down of a US navy RQ-4A Global Hawk in international airspace over the Strait of Hormuz.
Iran said the drone, with a wingspan larger than a Boeing 737 and costing more than over $100m (£79m), had violated its territorial airspace – a claim now supported by Moscow.
Either way, it marked the first time Iran had struck the US military, which released a set of coordinates it claimed the drone was shot down at.
Mr Trump had last week ordered reprisal air strikes over the downed drone, but called them off at the last minute when he was told of the likely resulting loss of life.
On Tuesday, Iran’s foreign ministry said the sanctions on figures including the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei would mean the permanent closure of diplomatic channels between Tehran and Washington.
Iranian president Hassan Rouhani later called the penalties “idiotic” and said the White House was “afflicted by mental retardation”.
Tensions have been mounting in the Gulf since Mr Trump withdrew the US from a 2015 multilateral deal in which Iran agreed to limit its nuclear programme in return for the lifting of crippling economic sanctions.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Tuesday the situation around Iran was developing toward a dangerous scenario, the RIA news agency reported.
U.S. President Donald Trump targeted Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and other top Iranian officials with sanctions on Monday. Iran shot down a U.S. drone last week, and Trump called off retaliatory air strikes minutes before impact.