April 23 (UPI) -- A top commander in the Iranian military responded in kind Thursday to a threat from U.S. President Donald Trump to destroy Tehran's gunboats if they "harass" U.S. Navy vessels.
Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps vowed that Iran forces will take action against U.S. "terrorist" ships that harass Tehran's.
"We declare to them that we are absolutely determined and serious in defending our national security, water borders and maritime interests, and that any move [against us] will be effectively and swiftly met with a decisive, effective response," Salami said Thursday.
"We resolutely, effectively and confidently stand up against the threats that jeopardize our national security and territorial integrity; this is not a path that we will walk away from and will keep treading it by God's grace."
Trump said Wednesday he'd directed the U.S. Navy to destroy any harassing Iranian gunboats in waters near the Middle Eastern nation.
U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist said Trump's warning was necessary because of the behavior of Iranian boats in the North Arabian Gulf, where U.S. officials say they have recently made "dangerous and harassing" approaches toward U.S. warships.
"What [Trump] was emphasizing was all of our ships retain the right of self-defense, and people need to be very careful in their interactions to understand the inherent right of self-defense," Norquist said.
IRGC boats have come into close contact with six U.S. vessels in the Persian Gulf nearly a dozen times recently, U.S. officials said. Tehran dismissed the claim as a "Hollywood tale."