Major General Hossein Salami, top commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), said on Thursday he has ordered Iranian military vessels to open fire if they feel threatened by ships from the “terrorist” U.S. Navy. The IRGC is a designated terrorist organization.
Salami’s threats were made in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s Twitter post on Wednesday morning announcing that he has “instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.”
“We declare to [the Americans] that we are absolutely determined and serious in defending our national security, water borders and maritime interests, and that any move will be effectively and swiftly met with a decisive, effective response,” Salami said in response.
The Iranian general said Iran’s navy has been ordered to “target any flotilla or military unit of the US Navy’s terrorist forces if they were to put at risk the safety of our vessels or warships.”
“We resolutely, effectively and confidently stand up against the threats that jeopardize our national security and territorial integrity; this is not a path that we will walk away from and will keep treading it by Allah’s grace,” he said.
“They must be sure that the IRGC Navy and the powerful Armed Forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran consider the high-risk behavior of foreigners in the region as a threat to their national security and a red line, and will give a decisive response to any miscalculation on their part,” the IRGC added in a statement.
Salami claimed the U.S. Navy provoked a confrontation with IRGC gunboats last week by acting in an “unprofessional and hazardous” manner. In reality, the IRGC ships were caught on film approaching the American ships with their guns manned and performing dangerous high-speed maneuvers across their bows and sterns, in one case passing less than ten yards from the bow of a U.S. ship.
The six U.S. Navy ships involved in the incident were conducting helicopter drills in the international waters of the Persian Gulf when eight Iranian craft made an unprovoked approach. The Iranians ignored multiple radio and acoustic warnings to keep their distance.
Iran kept up the pretense of being the aggrieved party on Thursday by summoning the Swiss envoy in Tehran, who handles diplomatic relations with the United States, to lodge a “strong protest” over the “illegal and destabilizing” presence of American forces in the Persian Gulf.
The message given to the Swiss envoy repeated Gen. Salami’s threat that force will be used in response to any “threat and wrong move by U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf and the Oman Sea.”