Small vessels sailing close to larger ship (U.S. Navy)
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps vessels sail near a U.S. Navy ship in the Persian Gulf on April 15. (U.S. Navy)

The Iranian regime’s seizure of a Hong Kong-flagged tanker and harassment of U.S. forces in April are the latest in its pattern of violence.

Over the past year, the regime or its proxies have downed a U.S. drone, attacked oil fields in Saudi Arabia and shelled coalition forces fighting ISIS, killing U.S. and British personnel.

President Trump on April 22 warned Iran’s leaders against further aggression. “I have instructed the United States Navy to shoot down and destroy any and all Iranian gunboats if they harass our ships at sea,” he said in a tweet.

The United States is using economic sanctions to compel the regime to halt its pursuit of nuclear weapons and aggression. “[W]e just want Iran to behave like a normal nation,” U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo said earlier this year.

Harassing ships

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a U.S.-designated terrorist group, routinely attacks and harasses ships near the Strait of Hormuz, where one-third of all crude oil traded by sea passes each day.

A vessel circling around an oil tanker (© Morteza Akhoondi/Tasnim News Agency/AP Images)
An Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy vessel circles the British-flagged Stena Impero on July 21, 2019, after seizing the ship. (© Morteza Akhoondi/Tasnim News Agency/AP Images)

In May and June 2019 alone, the IRGC Navy attacked six tankers with magnetic mines near the Strait of Hormuz. In July, the IRGC Navy seized the British-flagged Stena Impero and held the crew hostage for weeks.

Threatening sovereignty

The regime’s proxies have repeatedly attacked coalition forces that liberated territory in Iraq and Syria from ISIS rule. An Iran-backed militia’s rocket attack on December 27, 2019, killed a U.S. civilian contractor and injured U.S. soldiers and Iraqi personnel.

The U.S. military responded shortly after with defensive airstrikes against Iran-backed militants in Iraq and Syria. At the time, Pompeo warned the U.S. ”will not stand for the Islamic Republic of Iran to take actions that put American men and women in jeopardy.”

An IRGC-backed militia is suspected in a March 11 rocket attack that killed two U.S. soldiers and one British soldier.

Men standing in front of damaged refining tower (© Amr Nabil/AP Images)
A damaged refining tower is shown at Saudi Aramco’s crude oil processing plant in Abqaiq, Saudi Arabia, after a September 20, 2019, attack. (© Amr Nabil/AP Images)

Iran’s regime earlier targeted oil facilities on Saudi territory, using drones and missiles to damage processing facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais in September 2019. Though Iran’s leaders have denied responsibility, the United Kingdom, France and Germany joined the United States in condemning Iran’s regime for the attack.

And in June 2019, the IRGC shot down a U.S. drone in international airspace. Trump at the time warned that the unprovoked attack was “a very big mistake!”

Violating agreements

Iran’s regime also repeatedly violates past agreements to limit its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. In July 2019, Iran’s regime breached the 300-kilogram uranium stockpile limit under the 2015 nuclear deal and began enriching uranium beyond any peaceful need, breaking past promises.

Rocket launching from site marked with Iranian flags (© Sepahnews/AP Images)
An Iranian rocket carrying a satellite is launched on April 22 from an undisclosed site believed to be in Iran’s Semnan province. (© Sepahnews/AP Images)

The IRGC launched a satellite on April 22, revealing a secret military space program that could advance its missile development. Pompeo said the missile launch violates U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231.

“I think every nation has an obligation to go to the United Nations and evaluate whether this missile launch was consistent with that Security Council resolution,” Pompeo told reporters on April 23. “I don’t think it remotely is.”