BREAKING: Trump Threatens to “shoot down and destroy” Iranian gunboats if they harass US ships

Moments ago, President Trump 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.

Per TheHill, the president did not reference any specific incident, but his tweet follows a tense encounter between Iranian and U.S. Navy ships in the Persian Gulf last week. The U.S. military said that 11 Iranian ships repeatedly made “dangerous and harassing approaches” of U.S. Navy and Coast Guard vessels in the Persian Gulf on Wednesday.

The U.S. Navy released a video of Iranian boats coming close to U.S. ships operating in the northern part of the Gulf.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) acknowledged the encounter on Sunday but claimed without evidence that American forces triggered the incident, accusing the U.S. of “unprofessional and provocative actions.”

Trump’s threat to destroy Iranian boats harassing U.S. ships is likely to exacerbate tensions with Tehran, which have run high throughout the Trump administration.

The president’s disclosure came hours after Iran claimed it had launched its first military satellite into orbit, a move that would mark an advancement of the country’s ballistic missile program.

Iran’s nuclear ambitions have been a prime source of tension between Washington and Tehran since Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Obama-era nuclear pact known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action aimed at curbing Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Still, last week’s interaction marked the first heated incident in months between Washington and Tehran.

The U.S. conducted a drone strike in early January that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani, the leader of the IRGC’s Quds Force, following violent demonstrations at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad. The Trump administration described the strike as a defensive measure aimed at preventing further attacks planned by Iran, but the move prompted questions, given a lack of information provided by the administration about Tehran’s plans.