U.S. Defence Secretary sees no immediate security threat following Iranian President’s fatal crash

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U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin

21st May 2024 – (Washington) U.S. Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin has stated that the recent tragic helicopter crash that claimed the life of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi appears to bear no immediate broader security implications. The incident, which also resulted in the deaths of the Iranian Foreign Minister and several top officials, occurred on Sunday in the mountainous terrains of East Azerbaijan province in northwestern Iran.

Secretary Austin, addressing the media alongside Air Force Gen. CQ Brown, Jr., Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described the crash as “very unfortunate” and confirmed that the U.S. is closely monitoring the situation. However, he clarified that there is currently no insight into the cause of the accident, and any conclusions would await the outcome of Iran’s official investigation.

“The United States had no involvement in the crash, and at this stage, there is no reason to believe it was anything other than an accident,” Austin firmly stated during a briefing following the meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.

In response to the incident, the U.S. State Department, through spokesman Matthew Miller, expressed condolences. “The United States extends its deepest sympathies for the deaths of President Raisi, Foreign Minister Amir-Abdollahian, and other members of their delegation,” Miller announced. He further reassured continued support for the Iranian people’s aspirations for human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The Iranian military has commenced a full investigation into the crash, which happened under adverse weather conditions, complicating rescue efforts. Despite these challenges, emergency teams were dispatched promptly, and the officials were declared deceased the following morning.

As per the Iranian Constitution, the First Vice President Mohammad Mokhber will temporarily assume presidential duties until new elections, scheduled to be held within the next 50 days.

Secretary Austin also addressed potential fears of regional destabilisation, stating, “In terms of our force posture, there are no immediate changes or broader general security impacts at this point in time.” His comments underline a cautious but steady approach by the U.S. military in the region.