Trump Downplays Iranian Shootdown of U.S. Surveillance Drone


Fordham Law professor and retired Navy captain and maritime law expert, Lawrence Brennan, was quoted in the Los Angeles Times on the dispute over whether an unmanned U.S. surveillance drone shot down by a missile was actually in Iranian airspace.

The question of whether the drone was hit in international airspace rests in part on a longstanding dispute between the U.S. and Iran over Tehran’s claim of territorial sovereignty over the waters and airspace up to 12 miles off its coastline, said Lawrence B. Brennan, a retired Navy captain and maritime law expert at Fordham University in New York.

The U.S. claims it has the right to fly and sail anywhere in the strait, which is 21 miles across at its narrowest point, because international law protects the right of all nations to peacefully transit such waterways.

“Under customary law, aircraft and ships have the right of innocent passage through the strait, anywhere in the strait, because it is a strait,” Brennan said.

Iran’s assertion that the drone was operating “in stealth mode” suggests it is seeking to build a case that the plane was spying, instead of transiting the strait for peaceful purposes, as required under international law.

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