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April 23, 2020 7:38 am

IRGC Chief: US Warships Will Be Destroyed if They Threaten Iran in Gulf

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

Four Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) vessels, some of several to maneuver in what the US Navy says were ‘unsafe and unprofessional actions against US Military ships by crossing the ships’ bows and sterns at close range,’ are seen next to the guided-missile destroyer USS Paul Hamilton, in the Gulf, April 15, 2020. Photo: US Navy / Handout via Reuters.

Iran will destroy US warships if its security is threatened in the Gulf, the head of Iran‘s elite Revolutionary Guards told state TV on Thursday, a day after US President Donald Trump warned Tehran over “harassment” of American vessels.

“I have ordered our naval forces to destroy any American terrorist force in the Persian Gulf that threatens security of Iran‘s military or non-military ships,” Major General Hossein Salami said. “Security of the Persian Gulf is part of Iran‘s strategic priorities.”

Trump said on Wednesday he had instructed the US Navy to fire on any Iranian ships that harass it at sea, but said later he was not changing the military’s rules of engagement.

Earlier this month, the US military said 11 Revolutionary Guards naval vessels from the Guards Navy came close to US Navy and Coast Guard ships in the Gulf, calling the moves “dangerous and provocative.”

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Tehran blamed its longtime adversary for the incident. On Thursday, Iran‘s Foreign Ministry summoned the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, who represents US interests in the country, over the recent tensions between Tehran and Washington.

“I am telling the Americans that we are absolutely determined and serious in defending our national security, our water borders, our shipping safety, and our security forces, and we will respond decisively to any sabotage,” Salami said.

“Americans have experienced our power in the past and must learn from it.”

Tensions between Iran and the United States have escalated since 2018, when Trump withdrew from Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six world powers and reimposed crippling sanctions.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif suggested that Trump should focus on saving US service members from the coronavirus outbreak.

“The US military is hit by over 5,000 #covid19 infections… Also, US forces have no business 7,000 miles away from home, provoking our sailors off our OWN Persian Gulf shores,” Zarif tweeted.

Iran‘s clerical rulers consider the US military presence in the Middle East a threat to the Islamic Republic’s security.

Stoking antagonism over Tehran’s nuclear and missile programs, Iran‘s Guards said on Wednesday they had successfully launched the country’s first military satellite into orbit. The announcement drew protests from Washington.

The US military says the same long-range ballistic technology used to put satellites into orbit could allow Tehran to launch longer-range missiles, perhaps someday with nuclear warheads.

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