U.S. warns airlines about flight paths near Iran; Bolton sets ‘security talks’ in Israel

by WorldTribune Staff, June 21, 2019

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on June 20 issued an emergency order banning U.S. airlines from flying in an overwater area of Iran-controlled airspace following Teheran’s downing of an American unmanned surveillance drone.

Meanwhile, the White House announced that national security adviser John Bolton will travel to Israel during the upcoming weekend for “regional security talks” with Russian and Israeli officials.

The FAA said U.S. airlines were prohibited from flying in Iranian airspace over the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman.

The agency said it was concerned about military activity near high-volume civil-aircraft routes in the region, along with Iran’s willingness to use long-range missiles with little or no warning.

The FAA also said on June 20 said that flight-tracking applications had shown that the nearest civil aircraft was operating within around 80 kilometers of a U.S. Global Hawk drone when it was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air missile this week.

“There were numerous civil-aviation aircraft operating in the area at the time of the intercept,” FAA said.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) said it had shot down a U.S. “spy” drone that had turned off its tracking equipment as it flew over the southern province of Hormozgan — saying the flight was a clear crossing of “our red line.”

However, the U.S. military says the pilotless surveillance aircraft was over the Strait of Hormuz in international airspace when it was shot down.

The White House said on June 20 that Bolton will meet on June 23 with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then hold talks with Meir Ben-Shabbat and Nikolai Patrushev, his Israeli and Russian counterparts.

U.S. Senator Angus King, an independent who usually caucuses with Democrats, has warned that Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are working to make Trump “feel boxed in” so that he believes he has no other option but to strike Iran militarily.

“What really worries me,” King continued, “is that the secretary of state and John Bolton, national security adviser, are moving us into a position where the president will feel boxed in and he has to respond in some military way. Because I don’t think that’s his instinct,” he told CNN.

Trump confirmed that a plan to respond with a military strike against Iran in retaliation for the downing of the U.S. drone had been drawn up, but he decided against it over concern of casualties.

The president tweeted on June 21: “… I asked, how many will die. 150 people, sir, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not … proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone. I am in no hurry, our Military is rebuilt, new, and ready to go, by far the best in the world,” Trump said. “Sanctions are biting & more added last night. Iran can NEVER have Nuclear Weapons, not against the USA, and not against the WORLD!”

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