General Gholam Reza Jalali, head of Iran's Civil Defence Organisation, said that Iran received a warning from the US about an upcoming limited strike, after the military shot down a US Navy surveillance drone.
"After the downing of its intruding drone, the United States told us through diplomatic intermediaries that it wanted to carry out a limited operation," Gen. Jalali was quoted by Reuters as saying.
He added that Tehran responded to the warning by saying that it sees any operation as "the start of the war".
Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps shot down the an American UAV on 20 June. In a letter to the UN chief Antonio Guterres, Tehran said the drone was flying in stealth mode and was being "engaged in a clear spying operation".
The Iranian military repeatedly warned the drone, which allegedly flew over the southern coastal province of Hormozgan, according to Iran’s envoy to the UN.
Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif posted a purported map of the drone's flight path, which appeared to show that it had breached Iran's airspace on several occasions and received multiple warnings until it was finally brought down.
LEGEND: blue=drone; yellow line=Iranian FIR; red line=Iranian territorial waters; ; green line=baseline internal waters; yellow dots=Iran radio warnings sent; red dot=point of impact. pic.twitter.com/Fs2jadCuoq— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) 22 июня 2019 г.
The Pentagon, on the other hand, maintained that the aircraft was destroyed while minding its business over neutral waters in the Strait of Hormuz.
Russia has debunked US claims, however. During talks with US National Security Adviser John Bolton and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu last month, Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev said Russia's military had information that the drone was shot down in Iranian airspace.
To prove this point, Iran's state-owned broadcaster has published photos of what it says are the remains of the drone retrieved from Iranian territorial waters.
The incident has further escalated tensions between Tehran and Washington. Reports emerged within days that Donald Trump had made a last-minute decision to call off a retaliatory strike on targets in Iran.
It followed attacks on at least six tankers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz that the United States quickly blamed on Iran. Tehran has staunchly denied any involvement and urged regional powers and the US to stop "warmongering".
Relations between the US and Iran took a turn for the worse last year after Donald Trump exited the 2015 nuclear deal, which curbed Iran's nuclear programme. Trump alleged that the accord had failed to prevent Iran from seeking nuclear weapons and that it should be replaced with a new one.
Iran insisted that it has never violated the terms of the agreement, contrary to US claims. The EU signatories of the deal – the UK, Germany, and France – also believe that Iran is complying with the terms of the deal.
But the Trump administration has still gone ahead with crippling economic sanctions against the country, forcing Iran to partially suspend its commitments under the deal.