“The Americans have certainly experienced this [in the past] that they will receive a harder slap than before upon perpetrating the slightest action or infringement against the Islamic Republic’s territorial waters and our people’s interests,” said senior spokesperson for Iran's Armed Forces, Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi, in an interview broadcast live on state television on Tuesday night.
“We do not joke [with anyone] when it comes to the issue of our defense,” he added.
The comments came after a recent tweet by US President Donald Trump in which he alleged that he had directed the US 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.
According to the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), American vessels resorted to “unprofessional and perilous” behavior in the waters during the incident, “causing trouble” for one of the elite force’s logistics ships that was conducting a routine patrol.
A US Navy statement has, however, alleged that 11 IRGC boats had closed in on six US naval vessels in the Persian Gulf “in dangerous and harassing approaches.”
The IRGC has strongly dismissed the statement, calling the account a “Hollywood tale.”
Shekarchi said Trump’s remarks served “psychological warfare” purposes aimed at tarnishing the public opinion, charming voters to help him get re-elected, and also helping him avoid criticism over his mishandling of domestic affairs.
The Americans, the spokesman added, are waging a smear campaign to demonize the Islamic Republic, “while they [themselves] are in contravention of international law [in the waterway] and causing problems [here].”
Still referring to the maritime incident, Shekarchi said the Islamic Republic wondered what business the United States and its forces had in the region.
He further asked, “What do they (Americans) want from the regional countries in the Persian Gulf waters,” while the countries of the region are perfectly capable of providing its security?
“Not only do they not have any answer for this question, but they also cause harassment and trample on international law,” the military official said.