US President Donald Trump has sent a strict warning to Iran stating that the US Navy won’t tolerate harassment in the sea by fellow Iranian ships. Donald Trump said, “I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.”
I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 22, 2020
As per reports, last week, the US military chief had accused Iran of provocative actions in the volatile waterway. However, Iran dismissed the reports as ‘baseless’ and claimed that ‘illegal and aggressive’ presence of the US in the gulf waterways is causing uncertainty in the region. Defence Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami said, “What leads to insecurity in the Persian Gulf region is actually the illegal and aggressive presence of the Americans who have come from the other end of the world to our borders and make such baseless claims.”
The US military had reported last week that 11 vessels from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) came dangerously close to the US navy’s six warships in a ‘dangerous and provocative way’ in the Persian Gulf. Such clashes are common occurrences in the gulf waterways a few years ago but had been largely stopped.
The US ships issued several warnings through bridge to bridge radio, blasts from the ships’ horns and long-range acoustic noise maker devices.
The US Military in a statement said, “The IRGCN’s dangerous and provocative actions increased the risk of miscalculation and collision, and were not in accordance with the internationally recognized Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, “We’ve talked as a team. We’re evaluating how best to respond and how best to communicate our displeasure with what took place.”
As per reports, close interactions with the Iranian military vessels were not common in 2016-17. Several times, US Navy fired warning shots at Iranian vessels as warning shots.
Iran refuted the claims
Iran had refuted the claims of harassment by the Iran navy made by the US calling it ‘baseless’ and termed the presence of the US in the Gulf waterway as ‘illegal and aggressive’.
The IRGN stated, “We advise the Americans to follow international regulations and maritime protocols in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman and to refrain from any adventurism and false and fake stories. They should be assured that the Revolutionary Guards navy and the powerful armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran sees the dangerous actions of foreigners in the region as a threat to national security and its red line and any error in the calculation on their part will receive a decisive response.”
Timed with Iranian military satellite launch?
The US president’s tweet seems to have come hours after the launch of Iran’s first military satellite ‘Noor’ from a mobile launch vehicle. Though the exact role and capabilities of the satellite are not clear, it is seen as a rare success by the Iranian authorities after repeated failures. US Secretary of Space Mike Pompeo had condemned the launch and called it a violation of the UN Security Council resolutions.