Russia insists US drone WAS flying over Iran when it was shot down triggering Trump’s abandoned call for air strikes – The Sun
RUSSIA claims to have military intelligence proving that the US drone shot down by Iran was in the the country's airspace when it was struck.
Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of Russia’s Security Council, told journalists in Jerusalem that evidence presented by the Trump administration blaming the Islamic Republic for attacks on ships in the Gulf of Oman was poor quality and unprofessional.
Tensions are at breaking point after the incident which the US says took place in international airspace in the Strait of Hormuz.
But Tehran claims the drone was spying and drifted into their realm.
France's foreign minister also waded into the fray saying that a violation of the 2015 nuclear deal would be a serious mistake and that France, Britain and Germany were working to ensure Tehran understood it was not in their interest to do so.
"An Iranian violation would be a serious mistake and a bad response to the pressure exerted by the United States," Jean-Yves Le Drian told lawmakers.
He added that France, Germany and Britain were totally mobilised to tell Iran that it was not in its interest to break its nuclear commitments and that the Europeans were working together to de-escalate the situation.
Earlier today Russia waded into the US-Iran nuclear weapons storm by vowing to take steps to counter the "illegal" sanctions Donald Trump has imposed on the Islamic republic.
Vladimir Putin's deputy Foreign Minister issued the stark warning earlier today but declined to give any actual details about what the Kremlin intended to do.
Sergei Ryabkov said the new sanctions would only further aggravate spiralling tensions and Washington should instead be seeking talks with Tehran.
He said “the situation is on the brink of war”, according to the Russian news agency RIA.
Russia has already denounced the new sanctions as "illegal" and President Putin has warned of "disaster" if the US were to use force against Iran.
Moscow's warning came as President Hassan Rouhani mocked Donald Trump by saying the White House is "afflicted by mental retardation".
In a live TV address he also branded crippling new US sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and others "outrageous and idiotic."
Fiery Rouhani warned the decision by the Trump administration was doomed to "certain failure".
He also criticised US officials for wanting to sanction his Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Rouhani said: "You sanction the foreign minister simultaneously with a request for talks?"
A Ministry spokesman earlier claimed the sanctions will permanently end any chance of diplomacy between the two feuding countries.
Abbas Mousavi took to Twitter to claim they mean “closing (the) channel of diplomacy forever”.
“Trump’s desperate administration is destroying the established international mechanisms for maintaining world peace and security,” the tweet read.
John Bolton, Trump's national security adviser, later said the US is still open to negotiations adding all Iran needs to do is "walk through that open door."
It was unclear if his response was a direct response to Mousavi's tweet.
The US crackdown comes as the president is looking for a fresh blow to Iran's economy after Tehran shot down the American drone.
With tensions running high between the two countries, Trump signed an executive order imposing the sanctions, which US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said would lock billions of dollars more in Iranian assets.
Trump told reporters the sanctions were in part a response to last week's downing of a US drone by Iran, but would have happened anyway.
What are the new sanctions?
The new sanctions are a fresh blow to Irans economy after Tehrans downing of an unmanned American drone last week.
They are aimed at denying Irans leadership access to financial resources.
This then blocks them from using the US financial system or having access to any assets in the US.
Sanctions were also imposed on eight senior commanders of Navy, Aerospace, and Ground Forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
Trump has also signed an executive order that aims to increase transparency for the cost of health services.
US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said Zarif will be placed under sanctions this week.
A senior State Department official said the US is building a coalition with its allies to protect Gulf shipping lanes by having 'eyes on all shipping'.
He said Khamenei was ultimately responsible for what Trump called "the hostile conduct of the regime" in the Middle East.
Trump said: "Sanctions imposed through the executive order … will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader's office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support."
Mohammad Javad Zarif responded in a Twitter post that hawkish politicians close to Trump "despise diplomacy, and thirst for war."
The latest sanctions deny Iran's leadership access to financial resources, blocking them from using the US financial system or having access to any assets in the US.
The White House announced: "Anybody who conducts significant transactions with these sanctioned individuals may be exposed to sanctions themselves."
The Trump administration wants to force Tehran to open talks on its nuclear and missile programmes and its activities in the region, saying the 2015 deal did not go far enough.
Sanctions were also imposed on eight senior commanders of Navy, Aerospace, and Ground Forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, the US Treasury Department said.
Meanehile, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country will do "everything" to prevent arch-rival Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
"Israel will not allow Iran, which calls for our destruction, to entrench on our border; we will do everything to prevent it from attaining nuclear weapons," he said.
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He was speaking alongside Nikolai Patrushev, the head of the Kremlin's powerful security council.
Israel has carried out repeated strikes to prevent Iranian forces becoming embedded in neighbouring Syria.
The Israeli government has vowed never to let Iran obtain nukes, believing Israel would be the prime target.
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