President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that Iran is closely following US activities, but would never initiate a conflict in the region.
Rouhani made the comments during a telephone call to Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran follows America’s activities and movements closely, but it will never be the one that starts conflict and tension in the region,” Rouhani said during the call, held due to the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
US President Donald Trump said on Wednesday he had instructed the US Navy to fire on any Iranian ships that harass it at sea.
Earlier this month, the US military alleged that 11 boats of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps had closed in on six US naval vessels in the Persian Gulf “in dangerous and harassing approaches.”
The IRGC strongly dismisses the statement, calling the account a “Hollywood tale”.
The IRGC’s chief commander on Thursday warned the US of a "decisive response" if Iranian vessels are jeopardized in the Persian Gulf.
"I am telling the Americans that we are absolutely determined and serious in defending our national security, our water borders, our shipping safety, and our security forces… and that all action will be met with a decisive response that will be efficient and quick," Major General Hossein Salami said.
“We have ordered our naval units at sea that if any warships or military units from the naval force of America’s terrorist army wants to jeopardize our commercial vessels or our combat vessels, they must target those (American) warships or naval units.”
Iran summoned the Swiss ambassador to Tehran, who represents US interests in the country, over recent Persian Gulf tensions.
On Friday, Rouhani called on Iran's Armed Forces to seek regional stability while maintaining vigilance against "provocations".
"We must carefully follow strategies ensuring the sustainable stability of the region while maintaining vigilance and authoritative presence in the area," Rouhani told Defense Minister Brigadier General Amir Hatami by telephone.
In a phone call to Major General Salami, Rouhani "referred to provocative actions by foreigners in the region and the need to maintain vigilance against these moves".
Antagonism between the United States and Iran has sharpened since 2018, when Trump withdrew from Tehran's 2015 nuclear deal with six world powers and reimposed crippling sanctions.
Animosities spiked in early January when top Iranian military commander Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani was assassinated in a US drone strike in Baghdad. Iran retaliated on Jan. 9 by firing missiles at bases in Iraq where US troops were stationed.
Call for restraint
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov on Saturday said Moscow is concerned about Washington’s threats against Tehran, calling on both sides to exercise restraint.
Ryabkov said the United States is interpreting its right to self-defense in its own way by threatening Iran with attacks in the Persian Gulf.
"This is one of the methods that create uncertainty in the international community, this is a deliberate desire to sow discord among members of the international community, given that different countries interpret the relevant provisions of international law differently. This is one of the elements of US policy that is aimed at continuing to play on the nerves", Ryabkov stated.
Reuters, Press TV and Sputnik contributed to this story.