U.S. President Donald J. Trump issued a stern warning to Iran, tweeting: “I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.”
Iran has a long history of harassing U.S vessels operating in the Persian gulf, including small, Iranian boats that have charged at U.S. ships operating in international waters.
This is an important warning about the rights of our ships and their inherent right of self-defense, said Deputy Defense Secretary David L. Norquist. “People need to be very careful in their interactions to understand the inherent right of self-defense.”
Every ship that deploys has the inherent right to self-defense. As Air Force Gen John E. Hyten explained to reporters at the Pentagon, “We see a hostile act, if we see hostile intent, we have the right to respond up to and including lethal force.”
Hyten also warned Iran that threatened U.S. commanders will respond “with overwhelming lethal force.”
President Trump responded to Iran’s poor behavior, Norquist said, by emphasizing and warning them about the challenges they will create. “I think it’s an important thing for other people to understand and take very seriously.”
It is good that the President warned an adversary, Hyten said. If Iran goes down that path, “we will come and we will come large.”
Outside of Iran’s aggression at sea, its satellite launch on Tuesday was also contentious as it had military capabilities and crossed into U.S. air space.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said: “They had promised that all their missile and satellite programs were civilian. We will continue to deter Iran.”