Pentagon officials are in “full agreement” with President Donald J.Trump who ordered the Navy to destroy any armed Iranian vessel that “harasses” American warships.
The president tweeted, "I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea."
"The president issued an important warning to the Iranians," Deputy Defense Secretary David L. Norquist said during a Pentagon news conference today. "What he was emphasizing is all of our ships retain the right of self-defense, and people need to be very careful in their interactions to understand the inherent right of self-defense."
The Iranian regime has a history of harassing US vessels operating in the Persian Gulf. In the past, small, quick Iranian boats have charged at US ships in international waters, the Pentagon said in a statement.
The president's tweet does not signal a new policy, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, as U.S. forces in any environment retain the right to defend themselves. "Every ship that deploys in harm's way has the inherent right of self-defense," Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten told reporters. "What that means is if we see a hostile act, if we see hostile intent, we have the right to respond, up to and including lethal force."
Hyten warned Iran that, if threatened, US commanders "will respond with overwhelming lethal force."
On April 19, the US Navy accused 11 Iranian Navy vessels of “harassing” its warships involved in an exercise with Army AH-64E Apache helicopters in the Arabian Sea.
Fervently rejecting US’ claims, Tehran said the boats were deployed for increased patrol after the US Navy blocked the path of its ship twice in April.