Ongoing tensions between the US and Iran spiked again recently as President Trump announced he had instructed the US Navy to “shoot down and destroy” Iranian vessels that “harass American warships”, after complaints emerged that some Iranian vessels had sailed dangerously close to US warships in the Persian Gulf.
Amid a recent escalation of tensions between Tehran and Washington, the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces issued a statement on Monday warning the US that moves perceived as provocative would be reciprocally met with a firm response.
Deploring “high-risk behaviors, which make shipping [in regional waters] insecure”, the statement says that while the Islamic Republic of Iran has never initiated any tension or conflict in the region, it would swiftly come to the defence of its territorial integrity.
“Any act of adventurism, harassment and provocation will be met with the Iranian Armed Forces’ decisive response, and hostile forces, including the US, will be responsible for the consequences.”
The Iranian Armed Forces statement emphasizes its belief that the capabilities of the countries of the region are adequate for maintaining stability in the Persian Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Sea of Oman, while guaranteeing the security of the flow of hydrocarbon resources through the region.
The strongly-worded statement lambastes the “establishment of military bases and extra-regional coalitions led by the US” as wreaking havoc and undermining security, while urging the military forces of the US and its allies to be withdrawn from the region.
While calling out Washington for providing “false accounts of their provocative behaviors” while navigating Iran’s territorial waters, the Armed Forces advised the US and its allies to abide by Iran’s regulations as well as international rules.
The developments followed Donald Trump’s recent threat that US Navy ships would shoot “out of the water” Iranian gunboats that sail too close to American vessels in the Persian Gulf.
Trump’s twitter remarks came after a US Navy statement alleged that 11 boats of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) had carried out “dangerous and harassing approaches” in regard to six American naval vessels in the Persian Gulf.
According to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), American vessels had engaged in “unprofessional and perilous” behaviour in the waters, “causing trouble” for one of its logistics ships on a routine patrol.
On 23 April the Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the Swiss ambassador, whose country represents the United States’ interests in Tehran, over the incident.
“The summoning took place because of the acts of harassment and provocation by American forces in the Persian Gulf,” IRNA reported Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Mousavi as saying.
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani was reported as having a phone conversation with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani on Saturday, to emphasise that Tehran would refrain from initiating conflict in the region despite the provocative actions of Washington.
Decades of Tensions
At the start of the year, tensions between Iran and the US intensified following the assassination of Iran’s top military commander Qasem Soleimani in a US drone attack on Baghdad international airport that also killed Iraqi Shia militia commander Abu Mahdi Muhandis.
Tehran responded by carrying out airstrikes against two US military bases in Iraq.
Decades-old tensions between Tehran and Washington have been escalating since 2018, when US President Donald Trump withdrew his country unilaterally from the landmark Iran nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), following up the move by slapping Tehran with crippling banking and energy sanctions.
In light of the developments, Iran gradually reneged on some of the nuclear deal’s provisions, including limitations on levels of uranium enrichment, stressing, however, that it has no intention to pursue either nuclear weapons or any other weapons of mass destruction.