Without mincing words, General Morteza Qorbani, an adviser to Iran’s military command, cautioned that should Washington “commit the slightest stupidity, we will send these ships to the bottom of the sea along with their crew and planes.”
Iran, he promised, would do so “using two missiles or two new secret weapons.” He did not specify what type of “secret weapons” he was referring to.
The US earlier deployed three guided-missile destroyers, the USS McFaul, USS Gonzalez, USS Mason, to the Persian Gulf, with the last warship crossing the Strait of Hormuz this week. They joined the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group, which has been cruising off the coast of Oman, near the Gulf, since early May.
The military buildup near Iranian waters coincided with the Pentagon announcing plans to send around 1,500 additional troops to Iraq, which borders Iran.
Although General Qorbani did not provide details of the weapons he mentioned, in recent months the nation has been showcasing its newest ships and submarines, as well as its naval firepower. In February, Tehran unveiled and successfully tested its new Hoveizeh long-range cruise missile, which is said to have a range of over 1,350 kilometers.
In the same month, Tehran launched the massive Velayat 97 naval drill, with maneuvers spanning from the Strait of Hormuz and the Gulf of Oman to the northern Indian Ocean. During the drill, a midget Ghadir-class submarine fired an anti-ship cruise missile for the first time.
Relations between the US and Iran deteriorated dramatically after President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the Iran nuclear deal, known as the JCPOA, and re-imposed sanctions on Tehran. The move was condemned by a number of nations, including Washington’s allies in Europe.
Meanwhile, in the US, dozens of retired top military brass and diplomats wrote an open letter to Trump, urging him to ditch the ‘stick’ approach and begin real talks with Iran. They warned that by failing to do so, the US risks not only making the situation in the Middle East worse, but also entering into “armed conflict at immense financial, human, and geopolitical cost.”