The head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards on Sunday warned of retaliation against the Gulf's strategic Strait of Hormuz, U.S. bases in the Middle East and Israel if his country was to be attacked.
According to a report by AFP, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, speaking in a very rare news conference in Tehran, also said that he believed Iran would abandon the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty should it be targeted for military action.
Jafari said that the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow channel at the entrance of the Gulf through which a third of the world's traded oil passes, would be a legitimate target for Iran should it be attacked.
“This is a declared policy by Iran that if war occurs in the region and the Islamic republic is involved, it is natural that the Strait of Hormuz as well as the energy (market) will face difficulties,” he said, according to AFP.
Jafari suggested that U.S. military bases -- such as those in Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia -- would also be fair game for retaliation by Iranian missiles or proxy forces.
“The U.S. has many vulnerabilities around Iran, and its bases are within the range of the Guards' missiles. We have other capabilities as well, particularly when it comes to the support of Muslims for the Islamic republic,” he said.
He added that Tehran believed Israel was unsuccessfully trying to push the United States to take part in military action against Iran's nuclear facilities.
"I do not think the attack would be carried out without U.S. permission," said Jafari.
However if Israeli jets or missiles did strike Iran, "nothing of Israel will be left, considering its size," he warned.
"I do not think any part of Israel will be untouched given our missile capabilities. Thus, our response is in itself a deterrent,” said Jafari.
Jafari said that his personal opinion was that, in case of attack, Iran would leave the NPT which is meant to prevent states developing nuclear weapons while permitting atomic energy generation.
"In case of an attack, Iran's obligations will change. My assessment is that Iran may leave the NPT -- but it would not mean a dash towards a nuclear bomb because we have a religious edict from the supreme leader" against atomic weapons, he said.
Jafari’s threats came in the wake of repeated speculation that Israel may attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been pushing the U.S. to define clear “red lines” that Iran cannot cross in its nuclear program, but President Barack Obama has rejected that idea.
U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta backed Obama on the weekend and dismissed Netanyahu’s “red line” demand, saying that red lines “are kind of political arguments that are used to try to put people in a corner.”
Meanwhile, The London Telegraph reported Sunday that Obama and Netanyahu would meet in an unannounced meeting. There was no confirmation or denial from Washington - but the Prime Minister’s spokesman Mark Regev told Arutz Sheva on Sunday that the newspaper’s report they will meet on Sunday is “incorrect.”
Netanyahu, meanwhile, has harshly criticized Iran in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press” which will air on Sunday, saying that Iran’s leaders are guided by "unbelievable fanaticism."
“I think Iran is very different. They put their zealotry above their survival. They have suicide bombers all over the place. I wouldn't rely on their rationality," Netanyahu said, suggesting Iran cannot be contained in the same way as the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
Netanyahu said that critics who argue that taking action against Iran's nuclear program was "a lot worse" than a nuclear-armed Tehran, or that an Iran with nuclear weapons would stabilize the Middle East, "have set a new standard for human stupidity."