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Statement on the United States Reprisal Against Iran

October 19, 1987

Acting pursuant to my authority as Commander in Chief, United States naval vessels at 7 a.m. e.d.t. today struck an Iranian military platform in international waters in the central Persian Gulf. This platform has been used to assist in a number of Iranian attacks against nonbelligerent shipping. Iran's unprovoked attacks upon U.S. and other nonbelligerent shipping, and particularly deliberate laying of mines and firing of Silkworm missiles, which have hit U.S.-flag vessels, have come in spite of numerous messages from the Government of the United States to the Government of Iran warning of the consequences.

The action against the Iranian military platform came after consultations with congressional leadership and friendly governments. It is a prudent yet restrained response to this unlawful use of force against the United States and to numerous violations of the rights of other nonbelligerents. It is a lawful exercise of the right of self-defense enshrined in article 51 of the United Nations Charter and is being so notified to the President of the United Nations Security Council.

The United States has no desire for a military confrontation with Iran, but the Government of Iran should be under no illusion about our determination and ability to protect our ships and our interests against unprovoked attacks. We have informed the Government of Iran of our desire for an urgent end to tensions in the region and an end to the Iran-Iraq war through urgent implementation of Security Council Resolution 598.

Ronald Reagan, Statement on the United States Reprisal Against Iran Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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