President Trump tells US Navy to 'destroy' Iranian gunboats if they harass US ships

US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he has instructed the United States Navy “to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats” if they harass American ships at sea.

Trump's tweet comes just hours after Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps said it had launched the country's first military satellite into orbit.

There was no immediate independent confirmation of the launch of the satellite. The US State Department and Israeli officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment while the Pentagon said it “will continue to closely monitor Iran’s pursuit of viable space launch technology.”

However, such a launch immediately raised concerns among experts on whether the technology used could help Iran develop intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Last week 11 vessels from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) came dangerously close to US ships in the Gulf, according to a statement from the US military.

“Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) vessels conducted unsafe and unprofessional actions against U.S. Military ships by crossing the ships’ bows and sterns at close range while operating in international waters of the North Arabian Gulf,” read the statement for the US Fifth Fleet.

The US ships which were approached by the IRGC ships were identified as the USS Lewis B. Puller, USS Paul Hamilton, USS Firebolt, USS Sirocco, USCGC Wrangell and USCGC Maui.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 10:06 - GMT 07:06
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