The head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has suggested that U.S. military forces in the Middle East could be in danger of an Iranian missile attack if Washington imposes new sanctions against Tehran.
Jafari’s comments on October 8 follow several media reports saying that U.S. President Donald Trump intends to announce plans to decertify the 2015 nuclear deal that global powers forged with Iran in 2015 -- declaring it not in U.S. interests. The move would give the Republican-controlled Congress 60 days to decide whether to reinstate sanctions on Tehran that were suspended under the agreement.
Iran’s official IRNA news agency quoted IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari as saying that “if new sanctions go into effect,” the United States should “move its regional bases to a 2,000-kilometer radius” from Iran, adding that 2,000 kilometers is “the range of Iranian missiles.”
The U.S. military currently has bases less than 800 kilometers from Iran’s borders in countries neighboring Iran.
Jafari also said that if the United States designates the IRGC as a terrorist group, the IRGC would consider the U.S. Army a terrorist group.
The IRGC, Iran's most powerful internal and external security force, is known for its tough talk, but it doesn't outline the country's official position.
The United States has designated the IRGC’s external branch -- the Quds Force -- and a number of individuals and entities associated with the organization as terrorist, but not the IRGC as a whole.
In an interview taped earlier this week and aired on October 7 on Trinity Broadcasting Network, Trump declined to specify his intentions in regard to the nuclear accord with Iran, but he said he is “very unhappy with the deal…I’m very unhappy with their attitude.”
“The spirit of the deal, certainly, is not there…They are literally causing trouble, predominantly in the Middle East,” he added.
Trump’s latest comments are in line with what he said during an October 5 meeting with military leaders at the White House, 10 days before a deadline to decide whether to certify that Iran is in compliance with the deal, which he has sharply criticized.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani has warned of unspecified consequences if the United States leaves the accord, under which Tehran agreed to curtail its nuclear activities in exchange for relief from international sanctions.
Other signatories to the accord are Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany.
The United States and other Western governments fear that Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran says its nuclear program is intended solely for peaceful purposes, including power generation.
The Trump administration has twice certified that Iran is complying with its obligations under the nuclear accord, but it also frequently charged that Tehran breaks the "spirit" of the deal, including by continuing to test-launch ballistic missiles and rockets capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Washington has imposed several rounds of sanctions over the missile and rocket launches.