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Trump Tweets Warning to Iran against Harassing U.S. Ships, as Iran Launches Military Satellite

April 22, 2020 (EIRNS)—President Donald Trump issued a tweet this morning, “I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea.” The message comes after an incident last week, in which, according to the U.S. Navy, 11 IRGC Navy speed boats harassed a flotilla of 6 U.S. Navy vessels engaged in a training exercise in the Arabian Gulf with U.S. Army Apache attack helicopters. According to the U.S. account, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps boats repeatedly crossed ahead of and behind the U.S. ships at dangerously close distances, ignoring warnings to stay out of the way.

Trump’s message today also followed by a few hours, an IRGC announcement that it had successfully launched a military satellite, called Noor, into a 425-km orbit from a base in central Iran. The launch of the carrier rocket was apparently not from the Imam Khomeini Spaceport, from where Iran has had a number of launch failures of civilian satellites in recent years, suggesting instead a separate military space program, the existence of which was not publicly known before today. IRGC commander Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami said the satellite is a great jump forward for the IRGC’s intelligence capabilities.

The Iranian response to Trump’s tweet came today from Iranian military spokesman Sardar Abolfazl Shekarchi. He told the state-run ISNA news agency, according to RT, that “Today, instead of bullying others, the Americans should put all their efforts toward saving those members of their forces who are infected with coronavirus.”

Then Secretary of State Pompeo at his State Department briefing today, told reporters, that the Iranian satellite launch showed that Iran had been violating UN Security Council resolutions that prohibit it from developing long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, with no evidence—but, “I think Iran needs to be held accountable for what they’ve done.”

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