Iran’s Revolutionary Guards have raised their operational readiness and are preparing for war, according to a report in the British Telegraph.
The report indicated that an order from General Mohammed Ali Jaafari, the commander of the guards, has initiated preparations for potential external strikes and covert attacks.
Western intelligence officials told the Telegraph that the Islamic Republic had initiated plans to disperse long-range missiles, high explosives, artillery and guards units to key defensive positions.
According to the officials, the order was given in response to mounting international pressure over Iran’s nuclear program. They added that preparation for a confrontation has gathered pace following last month’s report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that produced evidence that Iran was actively working to produce nuclear weapons.
Recent explosions have added to the growing sense of paranoia within Iran, the Telegraph said, with the regime fearing it will be the target of a surprise military strike by Israel or the U.S.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s spiritual leader, issued a directive to the heads of all the country’s military, intelligence and security organizations to take all necessary measures to protect the regime, the report said.
General Jaafari responded to this directive by ordering Revolutionary Guards units to redistribute Iran’s arsenal of long-range Shahab missiles to secret sites around the country where they would be safe from enemy attack and could be used to launch retaliatory attacks, said the officials.
In addition, the Iranian air force has formed a number of “rapid reaction units”, which have been carrying out extensive exercises to practice a response to an enemy air attack.
Meanwhile, a senior U.S. State Department official, Robert Einhorn, said Monday that "strong steps" need to be taken -- urgently -- to stop Iran's headlong rush towards nuclear technology.
Einhorn, a senior adviser for non-proliferation and arms control, told reporters, "The situation in Iran has become more and more worrisome. The timeline for its nuclear program is beginning to get shorter, so it is important we take these strong steps on an urgent basis."
Einhorn’s statement is arguably the toughest yet made by the Obama administration on the Iranian subject.