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Iran says won’t give in to intimidation after US threat of naval action

Tehran’s mission to the United Nations repeats the country’s firm resolve to protect its sovereignty against any act of aggression, saying the Islamic Republic will not capitulate to intimidation, after US President Donald Trump threatened to strike Iranian boats protecting the country's territorial waters.

“Iran has proven that it will not succumb to intimidation and threats, nor will it hesitate to defend its territory, in accordance with international law, from any and all aggressions,” the mission’s spokesperson Alireza Miryousefi told Newsweek on Wednesday.

“In the midst of a global coronavirus pandemic when all attentions worldwide are to combat this menace, the question is what the US military is doing in Persian Gulf waters, 7000 miles from home,” he added.

The remarks came after Trump tweeted that he had directed the UN Navy to “shoot down and destroy” Iranian gunboats that “harass” American ships, following a recent confrontation between US warships and Iranian military boats in the Persian Gulf.

A US Navy statement published last week claimed that 11 Iranian Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) boats had closed in on six US naval vessels in the Persian Gulf “in dangerous and harassing approaches.”

The IRGC refuted the claims that Iranian forces behaved in a dangerous manner, calling the US account of the encounter a “Hollywood tale.”

“We advise the Americans to follow international regulations and maritime protocols in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman and to refrain from any adventurism and false and fake stories,” it said in a statement.

The elite force also released the video of the incident that shows the IRGC Navy warning off a flotilla of US warships in the Persian Gulf as they try to approach the Iranian territorial waters.

Iran has repeatedly stressed that the country’s national sovereignty constitutes a redline, and that it would not hesitate to respond to any act of aggression.

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif reminded Washington in a tweet Thursday that “US forces have no business 7,000 miles away from home, provoking our sailors off our OWN Persian Gulf shores.”

The US military is hit by over 5000 #covid19 infections. @realdonaldtrump should attend to their needs, not engage in threats cheered on by Saddam’s terrorists.

Also, US forces have no business 7,000 miles away from home, provoking our sailors off our OWN Persian Gulf shores.— Javad Zarif (@JZarif) April 23, 2020

Along with senior Iranian statesmen and military officials, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei — the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces — has, on numerous occasions, downplayed Trump’s military threats, warning that Iran stands firm in defending the country.

“[Trump] threatened the Iranian nation and the Islamic establishment that ‘we would do this and that,’ but on behalf of the Iranian nation I say: Mr. Trump, you can’t do a damn thing,” the Leader said on one occasion.

The naval confrontation comes less than a year after the IRGC shot down an advanced US-made RQ-4 Global Hawk over Iran’s territorial waters off the coastal province of Hormozgan.

The unmanned US aircraft had been taken down by Iran’s indigenous Khordad 3 air defense system after it breached the country’s airspace on a spying mission despite the IRGC’s numerous warnings.

Iran has always pursued a consistently decisive policy against Washington’s acts of aggression no matter who is at the helm in the White House.

There has, however, been a rise in tensions between the two sides since May 2018, when the US under Trump unilaterally abandoned a nuclear deal with Tehran and five other countries and unleashed a campaign of economic pressure and military threats against the Islamic Republic.

On Wednesday, Trump doubled down on his threat at a White House press briefing that followed his tweet, claiming that the alleged harassment of US vessels was frequent during the administration of his predecessor Barack Obama.

“We don’t want their gunboats surrounding our boats, traveling around our boats and having a good time,” he said.

“Under the Obama administration, it was taking place all the time. Under my administration, I gave this order early on and nothing happened,” he added.

In January 2016, the last year of Obama’s presidency, IRGC naval forces arrested 10 US sailors after their patrol boats entered the country’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf.

They were later released after Americans apologized for the incident.

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