U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted on Wednesday that he has instructed the U.S. Navy “to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.”
The development came a week after the U.S. military said that 11 vessels of the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps conducted “dangerous and harassing approaches” towards a fleet of U.S. ships in the northern Persian Gulf near Bahrain.
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
Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, defended and echoed Trump’s warning.
“I like that the president warned an adversary. That’s what he’s doing,” said Hyten. “He’s providing a warning. If you want to go down that path, we will come and we will come large.”
Hyten warned the Iranian gunboats, “[If] you’re waving, that’s one thing. If you have a gun, and you point it at me, that’s another thing—we know exactly what that means. So if you cross that line, we know what that line is, and we will respond.”
An Iranian armed forces spokesperson refuted Trump’s tweet.
“Today, instead of bullying others, the Americans should put all their efforts toward saving those members of their forces who are infected with coronavirus,” said Abolfazl Shekarchi, reported the state-run Iranian Students News Agency.