Donald Trump has issued a tweet instructing the US Navy to "to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea".
This follows an altercation last week in which the US Navy accused Iran of carrying out "dangerous and harassing" approaches to several American ships operating in international waters in the Persian Gulf.
It was reported that 11 Iranian vessels crossed paths with six US ships involved in a military operation near Kuwait.
The US claims the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy (IRGCN) vessels repeatedly provoked their ships, passing them at high speed.
The Revolutionary Guard has since responded to the US accusations saying the close encounter was caused by “the unprofessional and provocative actions of the United States and their indifference to warnings”.
President Trump's tweet comes on the same day Iran announced that it has launched a military satellite into orbit.
On its official website, the Revolutionary Guard said the satellite successfully reached an orbit of 264 miles above the Earth’s surface.
The launch has raised some concern with experts believing that the technology could be used to help Iran develop intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The Pentagon has said it “will continue to closely monitor Iran’s pursuit of viable space launch technology”.
Tensions with Iran may continue to rise. Analysts have suggested that with the COVID-19 pandemic creating historically low oil prices, Iran may develop a new willingness from to take risks.
Cover image: PA.