Statement by Assistant to the President for Press Relations Fitzwater on the United States Military Strike in the Persian Gulf

 

April 18, 1988

 

Acting under his authority as Commander in Chief, the President has directed United States forces at 1 a.m. eastern daylight time today to strike Iranian military targets in the southern Persian Gulf. Our forces attacked oil platforms at Sirri and Sassan in the southern Gulf. These platforms are used as command and control radar stations for the Iranian military. The attacks are underway at this time. These actions were taken in response to Iran's recent resumption of mine-laying in international waters and its mine attack on the U.S.S. Samuel B. Roberts. The Government of Iran has been repeatedly warned about the consequences of such hostile acts.

 

Our actions were taken following consultations with congressional leadership and after informing friendly governments. They are designed and intended to deter further Iranian mining. They represent a measured response to Iran's unlawful use of force against the United States and to Iran's numerous violations of the rights of other nonbelligerents. And they constitute a lawful exercise of the United States inherent right of self-defense under article 51 of the United Nations Charter. Appropriate notification of such actions is being provided to the President of the United Nations Security Council.

 

We have repeatedly told Iran that we do not desire military confrontation, but the Government of Iran should understand that we will protect our ships and our interests against unprovoked attacks. We urgently seek an end to tensions in the region and to the Iran-Iraq war. This would benefit the people of both nations who have suffered so much from the brutal conflict. We urge Iran to accept Security Council Resolution 598 and to agree to its rapid and comprehensive implementation. Iran has nothing to gain from continuation of the war. The Department of Defense will brief later this morning as we have more details come in. We're receiving details on a continuing basis at this time.

 

Note: Marlin Fitzwater read the statement to reporters at 3:33 a.m. in the Briefing Room at the White House.