- The Washington Times - Friday, July 19, 2019

A key Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee is warning about “not hyperventilating” the latest incident between the U.S. and Iran in which the U.S. Navy destroyed a “threatening” Iranian drone over international waters in the Strait of Hormuz.

“It was a drone. It got too close to the USS Boxer, and we dismantled this electronic [device], causing it to crash into the sea,” Rep. Gerry Connolly, Virginia Democrat, said in an appearance on CNN.  

In a surprise Thursday announcement at an unrelated White House event, President Trump said that the USS Boxer was forced to destroy the drone after it ignored multiple orders to withdraw.

 “Let’s not use this as a pretext for something we don’t want to get into,” Mr. Connolly warned. 

He said that while “it’s a provocative act to down somebody else’s drone… it’s hardly an act of war… we don’t want to go to war, we don’t want to precipitate a war.”

Democratic lawmakers have been warning the administration for months that they need congressional approval to go to war with Iran. The House last week passed an amendment to the 2020 defense policy bill requiring congressional consent for military action against Iran. 

The ongoing tensions come as the Trump administration seeks negotiations with Iran over its nuclear ambitions.

Mr. Connolly, who sits on the panel’s subcommittee on Middle East and North Africa, cited the president’s decision to withdraw from a key nuclear deal as “perhaps the single worst thing he’s done.”

He said the Obama-era agreement was “helping deescalate tensions in the region.” 

Tehran over the past month has begun to disregard major aspects of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, including exceeding the limit on uranium stockpiles and enriching uranium beyond the thresholds laid out in the multinational pact.

“The most dangerous thing here… is unintended consequences,” Mr. Connolly said. “Things can get out of hand even if we didn’t mean them do.”


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