US naval vessels will be destroyed should they threaten Iranian military or non-military ships in the Persian Gulf, head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Hossein Salami said in a speech broadcast by state TV. Salami noted that any US provocation will be met with a “crushing response”.
"The security of the Persian Gulf is part of Iran's strategic priorities", Salami stated.
Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter earlier in the day that US forces, provoking Iranian sailors in the Persian Gulf, have no business in waters located 7,000 miles away from home. In the tweet, the minister called on President Trump to attend to US needs amid the coronavirus pandemic, rather than meddling in affairs in the gulf.
Iran has repeatedly condemned the US presence in the region, slamming it as "illegal", and signalled its willingness to ramp up its defences.
The recent spike in tensions comes after the US Navy blasted Iranian forces for engaging in “dangerous and harassing” behaviour against large American surface ships during the drills.
The US has been conducting military manoeuvres in the Persian Gulf since late March, with the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan and its battle group arriving in the waterway in early April.
President Donald Trump on Wednesday said he has directed the US Navy to attack and destroy any Iranian gunboats that approach and intimidate its warships at sea.