Letter to the Speaker of
the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate on United States Military Action in the Persian Gulf
July 14, 1988
Mr. Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
approximately (EDT), July
a Panamanian tanker (Japanese owned) sent out a distress call reporting it was
under attack by two small boats and in need of assistance. Units of the U.S.
Middle East Joint Task Force, responding to the ship's distress call,
dispatched five U.S. helicopters to an area
approximately 23 nautical miles west north
west of FarsiIsland in the Northern Persian Gulf. Two of the
helicopters, while on their way to provide assitance,
observed two small boats heading towards FarsiIsland. As they closed to
identify visually the boats, the boats fired at the U.S. helicopters. This
hostile action posed an immediate and direct threat to the safety of the
helicopters. Accordingly, acting in self-defense, the helicopters returned
fire, firing rockets and machine gun rounds at the small boats, which then left
the scene. At this time it is believed that one of the boats may have been hit
with a rocket. The extent of damage to the boat is unknown. There were no casualties
or damage to U.S. forces; the tanker
caught fire as a result of the attack.
actions of U.S. forces in response to
being attacked by the Iranian small boats were taken in accordance with our
inherent right of self-defense, as recognized in Article 51 of the United
Nations Charter, and pursuant to my constitutional authority with respect to
the conduct of foreign relations and as Commander in Chief. There has been no
further hostile action by Iranian forces, and, although U.S. forces remain prepared
to take additional defensive action to protect our units and military
personnel, we regard this incident as closed.
March 1987, I and members of my Administration have provided to Congress
letters, reports, briefings, and testimony in connection with developments in
and the activities of the U.S. Armed Forces in the region. In accordance with
my desire that Congress continue to be fully informed in this matter, I am
providing this report consistent with the War Powers Resolution. I look forward
to cooperating with Congress in the pursuit of our mutual, overriding aim of
peace and stability in the Persian Gulf region.
Note: Identical letters
were sent to Jim Wright, Speaker of the House of Representatives, and John C. Stennis, President pro tempore of the Senate.