The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said that if the U.S. imposes new sanctions on his country, they will have to move their bases in the region outside the 2,000-mile range of Iran’s missiles.
The Revolutionary Guards are under the direct control of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei.
The warning came after the White House said on Friday that President Donald Trump would announce new U.S. responses to Iran’s missile tests, support for “terrorism” and cyber operations as part of his new Iran strategy.
“As we’ve announced in the past, if America’s new law for sanctions is passed, this country will have to move their regional bases outside the 2,000 km range of Iran’s missiles,” Guards’ commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said, according to state media.
Jafari also said that additional sanctions would end the chances for future dialogue with the United States, according to state media, and issued a stark warning to American troops.
“If the news is correct about the stupidity of the American government in considering the Revolutionary Guards a terrorist group, then the Revolutionary Guards will consider the American army to be like Islamic State all around the world particularly in the Middle East,” Jafari said.
The Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) are Iran’s most powerful internal and external security force. The Quds Force, the IRGC’s foreign espionage and paramilitary wing, and individuals and entities associated with the IRGC are on the US list of foreign terrorist organizations, but the organization as a whole is not.
As a whole, the Guards are not necessarily a terrorist organization. Perhaps the best way to describe them is to compare them to the old Mafia organization “Murder, Inc.” While they clearly assist terrorist groups in the Middle East, many individuals in the leadership have expansive business interests, including running an extortion racket.
Jafari also said that Tehran would ramp up its defense capabilities, including its missile program, if the U.S. undermined a nuclear deal between Iran and Western powers.
Under the 2015 deal, Iran agreed to limit its disputed nuclear program in return for the easing of economic sanctions.
However, Trump is expected to announce soon that he will decertify the deal, a senior administration official has said, in a step that potentially could cause the accord to unravel.
“The Americans should know that the Trump government’s stupid behavior with the nuclear deal will be used by the Islamic Republic as an opportunity to move ahead with its missile, regional and conventional defense program,” Jafari said, according to state media.
In truth, Iran doesn’t need an excuse to “move ahead” with its weapons programs. No matter what the U.S. does, they’d be developing them anyway. But the question persists: How to blunt Iranian ambitions in the region?
Obviously, some kind of formalized regional defense pact will be necessary. The U.S. has been contemplating one for years. Perhaps now is the time to get busy putting one together. Certainly the Sunni Arab Gulf states would seriously consider it. With Iran getting stronger militarily all the time thanks to Obama lifting sanctions and unfreezing assets, the need for collective action has never been greater.