Home Middle East Pentagon backs Trump’s tweet on taking out Iranian boats in Persian Gulf

Pentagon backs Trump’s tweet on taking out Iranian boats in Persian Gulf

Iranian boats US Navy ships in Persian Gulf
Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) vessel crosses the bow of a US Navy destroyer in the Persian Gulf on April 15. Photo: US Central Command

US defense department officials on Wednesday said they “fully agree” with a tweet by US president Donald Trump, which instructed the US Navy to “shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.”

The tweet was in response to the most recent interaction from April 15, which saw eleven IRGCN vessels make repeated approaches on US Navy ships operating in the Persian Gulf.

“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 regularly dispatches smaller boats US vessels to intercept, often in a provocative manner, US Navy ships operating in the Persian Gulf. In the past, small, quick Iranian boats have charged at US ships in international waters.

The president’s tweet does not signal a new policy, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, as US 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.”

Norquist said Trump was responding to Iran’s poor behavior. “He is emphasizing and warning them about the challenges of what they will create,” the deputy secretary said. “I think it was a very useful thing that he put out, and I think it’s an important thing for other people to understand and take very seriously.”