AP: A senior Revolutionary Guard commander threatened Saturday that U.S. aircraft carriers would be targeted if Iran came under attack amid a standoff with the West over Tehran’s nuclear program.
The Associated Press
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — A senior Revolutionary Guard commander threatened Saturday that U.S. aircraft carriers would be targeted if Iran came under attack amid a standoff with the West over Tehran’s nuclear program.
Iran has often warned of major retaliation if they faced a military strike from Israel or the West, but the latest comments appear tailored to emphasize the expanding range of Iranian missiles following 10 days of war games. The exercises included unveiling underground missile silos that Iran says is capable of multiple launches.
“Aircraft carriers … are moving targets. If the enemy threatens us, we will target them,” said Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the commander of the Guard’s aerospace force, in comments broadcast on state TV.
Hajizadeh also confirmed that Iran secretly conducted missile tests earlier this year that he claimed hit targets at the “mouth of the Indian Ocean” — an apparent reference to areas near the Strait of Hormouz at the southern end of the Gulf.
Hajizadeh said two missiles with ranges of 1,140 miles (1,900 kilometers) were fired during the Iranian month of Bahman, from Jan. 21 to Feb 19, from Semnan province in northern Iran. He gave no further details, but at maximum range the missiles could have reached deep into the Arabian Sea.
In April, the commander of the Revolutionary Guard said Iran’s arsenal is capable of striking “remote regions outside the Persian Gulf.”
Iran says its longest-range missiles, Shahab-3 and Sajjil-2, can travel up to 1,240 miles (2,000 kilometers) — putting Israel, U.S. bases in the Gulf region and parts Europe within reach.
Meanwhile, Iran has tried to project its military might outside the Gulf, where the U.S. has several air bases and the home port of the Navy’s 5th Fleet in Bahrain.
Iran has said its missiles can reach Israel and U.S. military bases in the region. Two Iranian warships entered the Mediterranean in February for the first time since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, and an Iranian submarine returned this week after a journey that included the Red Sea.
Hajizadeh also claimed that Iran has acquired technology to build supersonic surface-to-sea missiles. He didn’t elaborate, but defense analysts believe China has helped develop the anti-ship weapons.
Iran also says it has the ability to produce missiles with an even greater range than those currently in its arsenal, but won’t manufacture them because Israel and U.S. bases are already within reach.
Last month, British Foreign Secretary William Hague told the House of Commons that Iran has conducted covert tests of ballistic missiles since October in addition to the publicly announced military maneuvers.
Hajizadeh only confirmed that missile tests were carried out. It was not clear if the covert tests in February were the same as claimed by Hague.
The Islamic Republic remains locked in a standoff with the West over its nuclear program, which the U.S. and its allies suspect is aimed at developing atomic weapons. Iran denies the charges, and says the program is only for peaceful purposes.
Iran conducts several war games every year as part of its military self-sufficiency program that started in 1992, and frequently unveils new weapons and military systems during the drills.