AP: The commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard warned Friday that his forces are expanding capabilities to retaliate against possible enemy attacks from outside the Gulf, further suggesting that Tehran seeks to widen its military reach.
The Associated Press
By Ali Akbar Dareini
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard warned Friday that his forces are expanding capabilities to retaliate against possible enemy attacks from outside the Gulf, further suggesting that Tehran seeks to widen its military reach.
The comments by Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari appear part of a broader strategy by Iran to project its power beyond the Gulf and its neighbours. The range of Iranian missiles has been steadily enlarged in recent years to encompass Israel and parts of Europe, and two Iranian warships entered the Mediterranean in February for the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
“Given that the responsibility of countering enemy threats in faraway regions has been delegated to the Guard, we are increasing … capabilities to reach and hit the enemy in the same way the enemy stands in remote regions outside the Persian Gulf,” Jafari told the semi-official Fars news agency.
Jafari didn’t directly mention the United States, but his comments were a clear reference to American forces in the region that include the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet in Bahrain. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard is the nation’s most advanced fighting force and also has broad influence over nearly every strategic sector, including the nuclear program and oil industry.
Jafari, however, claimed Iran’s enemies are no longer in a position to attack.
“The time of threatening Iran militarily has passed … the deterrent is the progress of our capabilities including missile power,” he said.
The U.S. and Israel have sporadically warned that military force could be used if diplomacy fails to halt Iran’s uranium enrichment program, which Washington and allies fear could some day lead to development of nuclear weapons. Iran says its work is only for peaceful purposes such as power generation.
Iran put the Revolutionary Guard in charge of defending the country’s territorial waters in the Gulf in 2008. The decision was made based on assumptions that threats against Iran are mostly sea- or air-based.
Iranian military officials have said in the past that the country has set aside 100 military vessels to confront each warship from the U.S. or any other foreign power.