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Live Updates on Iran: International Diplomats Urge Calm

The downing of an American surveillance drone on Thursday by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps brought tensions to the boiling point. President Trump ordered a retaliatory strike but backed away at the last minute, officials said.

Hostilities have intensified between the two countries since President Trump withdrew the United States from the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reintroduced economic sanctions.

Last week, United States officials said Iran was responsible for explosions on two tankers in the Strait of Hormuz, a vital passageway for much of the world’s oil. This week, Iran announced that it would soon breach a limit on nuclear material that it had agreed to in the 2015 deal, and soon after, the United States announced it would be sending additional troops to the region.

Now, both sides are trying to dominate the narrative about what happened to the drone, and what may happen next.

The tensions between Iran and the United States had led international diplomats to call for a calm and considered approach from both countries.

Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, called the situation “a balancing act on the edge of war.”

“It is absolutely evident from the incoming information that the situation is extremely dangerous,” he told Russian news outlet TASS. “The menace of a conflict is not gone, and we once again are calling on responsible parties, if any are still left in Washington, to weigh all the consequences. We warn against incautious steps.”

The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, issued a statement on the situation in the Gulf.

“I have only one strong recommendation: nerves of steel,” he said, according to Alessandra Vellucci, a United Nations spokeswoman.

Europe has found itself stuck between the United States and Iran as their dispute escalates, and officials are still working to preserve the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that the United States withdrew from last year.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, speaking to journalists in Brussels after a European Union summit meeting, said the bloc’s foreign policy advisers had discussed the situation.

“We’re concerned,” she said, but added that there was still hope and trust for “a diplomatic, political solution in a very tense situation.”

Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, a German lawmaker for the Free Democrats, said that “the Iranians are trying to provoke the United States after they realized the rift between Bolton and Trump, but that brinkmanship could backfire.”

“The Iranians may also be frustrated in their desire to divide Europe and the United States,” he said, adding that if military action begins, “Iranians should not think that Europeans will come to their aid.”

The commander of Iran’s Aerospace Force, Amir Ali Hajizade, told the Iranian state broadcaster IRIB that his forces had issued “repeated warnings” to the drone before a surface-to-air missile was fired at it on Thursday.

The same news outlet on Friday released a series of photographs that it said showed the retrieved fragments of the American drone, its latest move to define the narrative about what happened on Thursday.

The United States and Iran both agree that the surveillance drone was downed by the Iranian military, but they disagree on where exactly it happened.

Iranian officials say that the drone was shot down after entering Iranian airspace, while the Americans say it was targeted in international airspace.

Iranian state-run news outlets posted footage that they said showed the moment an Iranian air defense system shot down the American drone early Thursday.

In the clip, a missile can be seen being fired from a Khordad 3 air defense system of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, and a few seconds later, an explosion can be seen in the sky. Neither the video or the photographs reveal much about the nature of the strike.

On the heels of American security warnings, several international airlines announced on Friday that they had diverted flights that cross Iranian-controlled airspace.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued an emergency order early Friday that prohibited all American flights in Tehran-controlled airspace above the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman because of “heightened military activities and increased political tensions.”

United Airlines said in a statement it had suspended its service between Newark Airport in New Jersey and Mumbai, India, that travels through Iranian airspace after conducting “a thorough safety and security review.” Customers planning to travel to Newark from Mumbai are to be rebooked on alternative flights to the United States.

The German carrier Lufthansa said in ad statement that its planes would not fly over the Strait of Hormuz and that the diversion area was likely to expand. The Dutch airline KLM has also diverted flights as a precautionary measure because of the “incident with the drone,” it said in a statement.

Qantas Airlines of Australia said in a statement that it would be rerouting flights to avoid the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman, which would affect its flights between Australia and London. British Airways said it was also taking similar measures in line with the F.A.A. advisory.

Oil prices are reflecting security concerns about the Persian Gulf. Brent crude, the international standard, has risen about 5.8 percent since the drone was shot down, trading at about $ 64.80 a barrel Friday morning. That is below the recent high of about $ 72 a barrel in mid-May.

About a third of the world’s crude oil and other petroleum products carried by tanker pass through the region, and incidents in the Gulf have caused the tanker companies to proceed with caution.

One executive at a company that operates a large global tanker fleet, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential business matters, described a sudden “drying up” of transactions in the region, with some companies saying they would stay away for now.

The Norwegian shipping company Frontline, whose Front Altair tanker was attacked on June 13 in the Gulf of Oman, said this week that until “the security of this important shipping lane is secured, Frontline will exercise extreme caution when considering new contracts in the region.”

Robert MacLeod, Frontline’s chief executive, said in an email on Friday that the company took “immediate actionafter its ship was attacked. “We stopped some of our vessels in the area, and only recommenced trading once increased security was in place.”

David D. Kirkpatrick, Megan Specia, Steven Erlanger, Matina Stevis-Gridneff, Stanley Reed, Neil MacFarquhar, Michael Wolgelenter, Nick Cumming-Bruce and Fahim Abed contributed reporting.

Source: NYT > World

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