U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper told NATO allies on Thursday that the United States did not want to go to war with Iran, according to allied diplomats present.
Esper, according to the diplomats, told NATO allies that the US did not seek a conflict with Tehran, but would ‘not tolerate’ any further incidents following last week’s shootdown of a $130 million drone by an Iranian missile.
Last week itself President Trump accused Iranian leaders of being “not smart” and in retaliation Iran’s president called the US’s ‘hostile’ behaviour signs of the White House’s ‘mental retardation.’
After speaking for several minutes to NATO defence ministers in a closed-door session, Esper was warned by France not to involve the NATO alliance in any military mission in the Gulf. Together with its European allies, France made a plea to uphold the Iran nuclear accord.
Meanwhile, German representatives also joined the French in calling for the 2015 Iran nuclear deal to be upheld, and not ‘jeopardised’.
Long-growing tensions between Tehran and Washington escalated on June 20th after Iranian air defences shot down a US RQ-4 Global Hawk drone that Iran said was operating in its airspace.
However the US maintains that the drone was flying over international waters in the Strait of Hormuz, and called the incident a provocation.
Relations between Iran and the US began to decline drastically in May 2018, when the American President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from the Iran nuclear treaty and imposed the country with high banking and energy sanctions.