Statement by Assistant to the President for Press Relations Fitzwater on the Attack Against the U.S.S. Stark

May 18, 1987

President Reagan met with the National Security Planning Group in the Situation Room from 2:30 until 3:45 this afternoon to discuss the status of the attack on the U.S.S. Stark in the Persian Gulf. The President has ordered a higher state of alert for U.S. vessels in the area.

The belligerents in the war, Iran and Iraq, will be formally notified today of this change in status. Under this status, aircraft of either country flying in a pattern which indicates hostile intent will be fired upon, unless they provide adequate notification of their intentions. The administration will consult with Congress on these changes and related issues.

We have issued a vigorous protest to the Government of Iraq. We have noted the profound regrets issued by the Iraqi Ambassador in the name of his Foreign Minister and Iraqi President Saddam Husayn. However, we are awaiting official notification of this statement. We expect an apology and compensation for the men who died in this tragic incident. We also seek compensation for the ship. The President shares the sense of concern and anger that Americans feel at this time. We will monitor the situation on a continuing basis.