Ambassadors to the United Nations of both the U.S. and Iran defended the recent attacks as "self-defense" in a letter to the 15-member Security Council.
Both representatives justified the actions under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter, Reuters reported on Wednesday. The article details the members' right to self-defense against armed attacks. It also requires the members to report any such measures to the Security Council immediately.
The U.S. killed Iranian military general Qassem Soleimani, the head of the country's elite Quds Force, in three airstrikes near the Baghdad International Airport earlier this month.
Iran retaliated by launching more than a dozen ballistic missiles targeting U.S. airbases in Iraq. No American casualties were reported from the attacks.
What The US Said
The U.S. strikes against Soleimani, and another set of strikes at bases controlled by Iran-backed Shia militia Kata'ib Hezbollah in Iraq and Syria took place in response to "an escalating series of armed attacks in recent months by [Iran] and Iran-supported militias on U.S. forces and interests in the Middle East," Ambassador Kelly Craft said in the letter seen by Reuters.
U.S. wanted to deter Iran or its allied militias from conducting or supporting any further attacks against the U.S., Kelly wrote.
The ambassador assured the country's willingness to negotiate with Iran and prevent further "endangerment of international peace and security or escalation by the Iranian regime," Reuters reported.
Kelly warned that the U.S. is prepared to take any further action to protect its troops or other interests in the region.
What Iran Said
Iran Ambassador Majid Takht Ravanchi similarly defended the country's actions, according to Reuters, saying that it doesn't seek "escalation or war."
Ravanchi described Iranian strikes as "measured and proportionate military response," Reuters reported.
"The operation was precise and targeted military objectives, thus leaving no collateral damage to civilians and civilian assets in the area," Ravanchi said, adding that Iran has full respect for Iraqi sovereignty.
Why It Matters
The letter comes as President Donald Trump signaled that the U.S. wants to pursue de-escalation of the situation, while he continued to threaten Iran with economic sanctions against any aggravation.
Trump previously threatened to attack key Iranian cultural sites ahead of Iran's retaliation, but later backtracked the statement after the Pentagon said it would constitute a war crime.