President Trump directed the U.S. Navy to blast any Iranian ships that harass American vessels in the Gulf of Oman.
Trump issued the order a week after boats from Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy sped close by several U.S. ships in the Gulf in what the U.S. Navy denounced as an “unsafe” and “unprofessional” maneuver that violated international maritime rules and customs.
“I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday.
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
The U.S. has designated the IRGC a terrorist organization. On April 15, 11 boats from the IRGC Navy “repeatedly conducted dangerous and harassing approaches” toward U.S. Navy vessels in the Gulf of Oman that were running integration exercises with AH-64E Apache attack helicopters from the U.S. Army, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said at the time.
The U.S. Navy said the Iranian boats “repeatedly crossed the bows and sterns of the U.S. vessels at extremely close range and high speeds” for about an hour, coming within 50 yards of the U.S. military vessels. The U.S. Navy said it attempted to warn off the IRGC boats multiple times through “bridge-to-bridge radio, five short blasts from the ships’ horns, and long range acoustic noise maker devices,” which the Iranian boats apparently ignored.
“The IRGCN’s dangerous and provocative actions increased the risk of miscalculation and collision, were not in accordance with the internationally recognized Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) ‘rules of the road’ or internationally recognized maritime customs, and were not in accordance with the obligation under international law to act with due regard for the safety of other vessels in the area,” the U.S. Navy said in a statement.
Tensions between the United States and Iran have grown in recent months as the Islamic regime struggles to find buyers for its oil while under heavy U.S. sanctions. President Trump pulled the U.S. out of the Iran nuclear deal in 2018 over concerns that the regime had not given up its aspirations of developing a nuclear bomb and it could not be stopped from doing so under the terms of the agreement.
In January, Trump ordered a drone strike that killed Iranian IRGC commander and terror leader Qassem Soleimani. The Iranian general had orchestrated a violent protest in front of a U.S. embassy in Iraq and was planning to bomb American targets, according to the Trump administration.
Iranian forces retaliated on Jan. 7, firing more than a dozen ballistic missiles at to Iraqi military bases where U.S. forces were stationed. The missile strikes did not kill either Iraqi or U.S. service members, but dozens of U.S. soldiers suffered head trauma and concussions from the attack.
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