A leading general in Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards lashed out at the US on Saturday, warning that it would be unable to make good on what he said were American threats against the Islamic republic.
“The US statesmen should be very wise and avoid threatening Iran, because the entire world has admitted this fact that the Americans cannot do such a thing,” said Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour, the chief of the IRGC’s ground forces, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
“Hence, they are unlikely to do such a move because it is unwise,” he added.
The IRGC’s deputy commander for political affairs, Rasul Sanayee Rad, made similar comments on Iranian state TV on Friday, declaring that, “today we are enjoying deterrence, meaning that we have dissuaded the enemy from attack.”
The comments are not unusual for Iranian military chiefs, who routinely deride the US’s military capabilities, but were made in this case in apparent response to a number of hawkish statements recently made by American officials towards Iran, including remarks by US President Donald Trump.
Following an Iranian test of a ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead in January, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on a number of entities involved in Iran’s missile program, with the president warning Iran that it had been “put on notice” and vowing that “nothing is off the table” in terms of a military response to perceived Iranian provocations.
Although the missile test did not violate the 2015 nuclear accord, the US government said such tests are forbidden under a separate UN resolution forbidding Iran from developing nuclear-capable missiles.
Pakpour also said Saturday that the Revolutionary Guards would conduct military drills next week, despite warnings from the US and the sanctions over the previous missile test.
“The maneuvers called ‘Grand Prophet 11’ will start Monday and last three days,” Pakpour told a news conference. He said rockets would be used without specifying which kind.
There has been an increase in tensions between Iran and the US since Trump’s inauguration in January, with the president repeating his criticism of the 2015 nuclear deal signed between Iran and world powers under former president Barack Obama.
During the presidential campaign, Trump vowed to rip up what he termed the “disastrous” nuclear accord with Iran. Since becoming president, he has seemingly walked back his pledge to dismantle the agreement, although he has continued to call it “one of the worst deals I’ve ever seen.”
US Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday continued with the administration’s hard line against Iran, telling an international security conference in Munich that Tehran was “the leading state sponsor of terrorism.” He also accused the Iranian regime of working to destabilize the entire Middle East, in part due to the terms of the nuclear deal.
“Thanks to the end of nuclear-related sanctions under the [deal], Iran now has additional resources to devote to these efforts,” Pence said.
“Let me be clear again: Under President Trump the United States will remain fully committed to ensuring that Iran never obtains a nuclear weapon capable of threatening our countries, our allies in the region, especially Israel,” Pence said.
Earlier this week, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the US of seeking to ratchet up tensions with Iran over its nuclear program in order to distract from what he called the “war of economy” against the Islamic Republic.
“The US wants to divert the Iranian officials’ attention from the real battlefield, that is the war of economy, by repeating the trick of military threat and war; officials should keep vigilant,” Khamenei said Wednesday, according to Fars.