Ex-Bolton chief of staff says Trump 'responded with restraint' after Iran downed US drone

President Trump acted responsibly after Iran shot down a U.S. Navy drone over a key strait in the Middle East, a former top National Security Council official told Fox News Thursday.

Former NSC chief of staff Fred Fleitz told "Tucker Carlson Tonight." that the president does not want war with Iran but is not afraid to defend American interests,

"I don't want a war with Iran," Fleitz said. "I know that this president was elected to get us out of wars and not to start new wars. The president was right to pull us out of the fraudulent nuclear deal with Iran.

US NAVY DRONE SHOT DOWN BY IRANIAN MISSILE OVER STRAIT OF HORMUZ IN 'UNPROVOKED ATTACK,' CENTRAL COMMAND SAYS

"But the use of force is on the table if Iran threatens our interests."

Fleitz, who also served as chief of staff to current National Security Adviser John Bolton, claimed some observers believe they can fault Trump if Iran uses violence in response to the U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear accord.

"There's people saying right now [that] the president is responsible if Iran responds with violence because we withdrew from that deal," he said.

"That is a fraudulent argument. We don't stay in an agreement because the other party threatens to respond with violence. The president has responded with restraint. He has given [Iran] an opportunity to deescalate the situation, and I think he handled it right today."

The former CIA analyst added that the Trump administration beefed up American forces in the Middle East because he wants to defend American interests, not go on the offensive.

"It doesn't mean that the president's going to do this, but the president can't ignore clear intelligence that Iran is planning to respond with violence to his policies," Fleitz said. "This president is not going to give in to blackmail but he does not want to use force if he doesn't have to."

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The downing of the drone by a surface-to-air missile is only the most recent Iranian provocation in the region. Thursday's incident comes on the heels of a disputed attack on a pair of oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman last week. U.S. officials say Iran was behind the tanker attacks, however, Tehran has not claimed responsibility and even suggested American involvement in the incident.

Similarly, Iran claimed the U.S. drone shot down Thursday was over Iranian airspace, but American officials stated unequivocally the incident occurred in international airspace. U.S. Central Command said in a statement that a U.S. Navy Broad Area Maritime Surveillance ISR aircraft, known as a BAMS-D, was shot down at approximately 7:35 p.m. ET Wednesday.

Fox News' Edmund DeMarche and Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report.