DUBAI — A deputy head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said even short-range Iranian missiles could reach U.S. warships in the Gulf, and the United States could not afford a new war, the semi-official news agency Fars reported on Friday.
The comments added to days of saber-rattling between Tehran and Washington, which has tightened sanctions and built up its military presence in the region alleging threats from Iran to its troops and interests.
Iran has accused the United States of “psychological warfare” and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said this week Tehran would not negotiate another deal after Washington quit a 2015 pact over Iran’s nuclear program.
“Even our short-range missiles can easily reach (U.S.) warships in the Gulf,” Mohammad Saleh Jokar, the Guard’s deputy for parliamentary affairs, was quoted by Fars as saying.
“America cannot afford the costs of a new war, and the country is in a bad situation in terms of manpower and social conditions,” he added.
Separately, a senior Iranian military official accused U.S. President Donald Trump of dishonesty, saying Washington was calling for talks while “holding a gun” at Tehran, the semi-official news agency Mehr reported on Friday.
Trump has said publicly he wants to pursue a diplomatic route after withdrawing from the 2015 deal and moving to cut off all Iranian oil exports this month.
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“The actions of American leaders in exerting pressure and launching sanctions ... while speaking of talks, is like holding a gun at someone and asking for friendship and negotiations,” said Rasoul Sanai-Rad, a political deputy of the armed forces command, Mehr reported.
“The behavior of American leaders is a political game which consists of threats and pressure while showing a willingness to negotiate in order to present a peaceful image of themselves and fool public opinion,” Sanai-Rad said. (Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Andrew Cawthorne)