President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he had instructed the U.S. Navy to fire on any Iranian ships that harass it at sea, a week after 11 vessels from Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) came dangerously close to U.S. ships in the Gulf.
"I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea," Trump wrote in a tweet, hours after Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps said it had launched the country's first military satellite into orbit.
Tensions have increased elsewhere as well. A U.S. Navy release video of the incident last week shows small Iranian fast boats coming close to American warships as they operated in the northern Persian Gulf near Kuwait, with U.S. Army Apache helicopters. On Sunday, the Guard acknowledged it had a tense encounter with U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf, but alleged without offering evidence that American forces sparked the incident.
Also on Wednesday, Iran's Revolutionary Guard said it put the Islamic Republic's first military satellite into orbit.
There was no immediate independent confirmation of the launch of the satellite, which the Guard called “Noor,” or light. The U.S. State Department and the Pentagon, which contend that such launches advance Iran’s ballistic missile program, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
However, such a launch immediately raised concerns among experts on whether the technology used could help Iran develop intercontinental ballistic missiles.