Senior defense officials in Tehran continue to deride American military option after Kerry says it remains on the table
Times of Israel
Iran ramped up its rhetoric against the United States over the weekend even as Western powers began easing sanctions on the Islamic Republic, saying that the country would “recognize no boundary for its response” if America exercised its military option.
“The US military option is of no care to us,” said Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps deputy commander Hossein Salami in a televised interview Saturday night, according to the semi-official Iranian Fars news agency. “They can use this option but should take the responsibility for its destructive consequences too.”
“The US can have different scenarios against Iran, including air, missile and limited ground incursion,” Salami added. “All these scenarios have been identified, all possibilities have been studied and we have complete intelligence superiority in all these cases and operational strategies.”
Salami was apparently responding to a January 23rd Al Arabiya interview, in which US Secretary of State John Kerry said that if Iran continues enrichment of uranium beyond permitted levels or breaks out toward a nuclear weapons capability, “then the military option that is available to the United States is ready and prepared to do what it would have to do.”
Shortly after Salami’s interview, Defense Minister Hossein Dehgan adopted a similar tone during a ceremony marking the return from exile of Islamic Republic founder Ruhollah Khomeini, Fars reported.
“The world’s arrogant powers are today scared of Iran’s high defensive capabilities and for the same reason their style of sanctions and threats are changed everyday,” said Dehgan.
This is not the first time senior Iranian defense officials derided the US military threat. Last week, IRGC Navy Commander Ali Fadavi joined the criticism, saying, “The military option is a laughable subject. Even John Kerry’s children snicker at it.”
Despite the rhetoric coming from Tehran’s defense establishment, Iran and the P5+1 are scheduled to hold a new round of talks in Vienna on February 18 in a bid to discuss a comprehensive solution to Tehran’s contested nuclear program.
Iran signed the interim deal in November with the P5+1 group — Britain, China, France, Russia, the United States and Germany — and began implementing the agreement on January 20.
Under the agreement, which is to last six months, Iran committed to limit its uranium enrichment to five percent, halting production of 20 percent-enriched uranium.
In return, the European Union and the United States have eased crippling economic sanctions on Iran.