The head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards threatened on Thursday that Iran will destroy US warships if its security is threatened in the Persian Gulf.
“I have ordered our naval forces to destroy any American terrorist force in the Persian Gulf that threatens security of Iran’s military or non-military ships,” Major General Hossein Salami said, according to Reuters, adding, “Security of the Persian Gulf is part of Iran’s strategic priorities.”
“I am telling the Americans that we are absolutely determined and serious in defending our national security, our water borders, our shipping safety, and our security forces, and we will respond decisively to any sabotage,” he continued.
“Americans have experienced our power in the past and must learn from it,” stated Salami.
Salami’s threat comes a day after US President Donald Trump warned Tehran over its harassment of US vessels.
Trump tweeted that he had instructed the US Navy to fire on any Iranian ships that harass it at sea, but said later he was not changing the military’s rules of engagement.
Trump’s threat followed a tense encounter between US and Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf earlier this month.
The US military said at the time that 11 Revolutionary Guards naval vessels from the Guards navy came close to US Navy and coast guard ships in the Gulf, calling the moves “dangerous and provocative”.
Iran’s Revolutionary Guard acknowledged that the incident had taken place, but also claimed that it was American forces who sparked the incident.
On Thursday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry summoned the Swiss ambassador in Tehran, who represents US interests in the country, over the recent tensions between Tehran and Washington.
Tensions between Iran and the United States have escalated since 2018, when Trump withdrew from Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with six world powers and reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
The tensions reached historic heights in early January when top Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani was eliminated in a US drone strike in Baghdad. Iran retaliated by firing missiles at bases in Iraq where US troops were stationed.
Iran regularly holds drills at the Strait of Hormuz, which is located at the mouth of the Persian Gulf and through which about a third of all oil traded at sea passes.
The Islamic Republic has threatened more than once to close the Strait of Hormuz, with the United States warning Iran in response that any attempt to close the strait would be viewed as a "red line" -- grounds for US military action.
In the last few years there have been several close encounters between Iranian and American vessels in the area.
General Salami regularly threatens both the US and Israel. In February, he said Iran is ready to strike both countries if they give it any reason to do so.
Previously, he warned in a TV interview that Iran will "raze Tel Aviv to the ground" if it is attacked by the US.