The commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards warned at the weekend that Iranian retaliation for a strike on its nuclear facilities could include blocking oil routes and striking Israel with long-range missiles.
“Any confrontation between Iran and non-regional countries would surely be extended to oil which would definitely lead to a huge increase in prices,” Mohammad-Ali Jafari told the state-owned Jam-e Jam newspaper.
Iran’s defence system was in an “acceptable” though “not ideal” state, he said, adding that it would be “natural” for Iran to use “all its capacities and potentials to confront the enemy” which would include “having control of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz”. About 20 per cent of the world’s oil exports pass through the narrow strategic waterway in southern Iran.
Speculation about an attack on Iran’s nuclear sites has risen following recent Israeli military manoeuvres in the eastern Mediterranean.
Mr Jafari said Israel was “too small” to attack Iran on its own and that the US was the “pivot of threats” - a clear warning that Iran would hold the US responsible for any Israeli strike. “Americans are more vulnerable than Israelis”, because of the presence of US forces in the region, he said.
Mr Jafari threatened that the governments of other countries could also be held “accountable” if they provided assistance to the US or Israel in an attack.
But he also warned Israel that any sort of involvement in a strike against Iran could make “all the areas under the control of the Zionist regime…insecure in the shortest time.”
“The Zionist regime lacks strategic depth and its land is totally at the range of Islamic republic missiles,” he warned. Iran’s medium-range Shahab-3 ballistic missiles can in theory reach Israel.
Mr Jafari suggested that Iran’s supporters in the Muslim world, notably [Hizbollah] in southern Lebanon, would see defending Shia Iran as a “religious responsibility”.
Mr Jafari, who runs Iran’s elite military force of about 120,000 core land, air and naval forces plus 10m volunteers, said his fighters would rely on their religious beliefs which he said could help them for asymmetrical warfare - a hint at the possibility of suicide attacks.
Iran’s nuclear programme would be delayed if attacked for a “very short” period of time, he said, adding that it would make Iran “more determined” to seek nuclear energy “for peaceful purposes”.