Amid the coronavirus crisis, US President Donald Trump said that he has instructed the Navy “to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.”
Trump’s latest attack on Iran comes as the country announced it had successfully launched the first military satellite on Wednesday after it repeatedly failed to launch satellites in the past even as tensions escalated with the US in the Middle East.
The Trump administration had earlier accused Iran of harassing its ships in the Gulf. The US Defence Department had accused Iran of “dangerous and provocative” actions in the Gulf. The US department had said that eleven Iran boats had “repeatedly crossed the bows and sterns” of US vessels in international waters.
Iran dismissed the US allegation, saying that it was a “Hollywood account of the encounter” while warning the US that any “miscalculation will receive a decisive response”.
The tensions between the two nations have escalated since a US drone strike killed Major General Qasem Soleimani, the former head of the country’s elite Quds Force. However, with the coronavirus sweeping the country Iran has accused the US of hurting it with sanctions at a time when its citizens are suffering.
Iran had rejected Trump’s offer of ventilators, foreign minister Zarif said that the country would be “exporting ventilators in a few months, all you need to do is stop interfering in the affairs of other nations; mine especially.”
Earlier, US secretary of state Mike Pompeo had offered a helping hand to Iran, while claiming that the country’s infrastructure was not prepared to deal with an outbreak, but it was rejected by Iran which said it can manage alone.