TEHRAN (FNA)- A top adviser of the Supreme Leader of Islamic Revolution said that in the event of war no ship passing through the oil-rich Persian Gulf region would be beyond the reach of the country’s missiles.
Iran, embroiled in a standoff with the West over its nuclear ambitions, has said it could respond to any military attack by closing the Strait of Hormoz at the southern end of the Persian Gulf through which about 40 percent of the world’s traded oil passes.
The United States, whose Fifth Fleet is based in the Persian Gulf state of Bahrain, has vowed to keep shipping lanes opened.
The West accuses Tehran of seeking to build nuclear warheads but Iran insists its aim is to master technology to make electricity. Washington has not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to end the row.
“At a time of war no ship can pass through the region of the Persian Gulf without being in the reach of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps’ coast-to-sea missiles,” Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, a senior military adviser of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei, said.
Rahim Safavi earlier this week said the Leader had put the IRGC in charge of defending the Persian Gulf against any enemy attacks and that they would not hesitate to “confront foreign forces”.
The comments came amid persistent speculation about a possible US or Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Iran has dismissed reports of possible US or Israeli plans to strike the country, but says it would respond by attacking U.S. interests and Israel if any such assault was made.
Iran’s air force and defense units held war games this week to test equipment and boost readiness.
Iran’s armed forces comprise of the regular army and the IRGC, both of which are under the command of the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei.
The IRGC, which is formed of the three ground, naval and air forces, is mainly tasked with protecting border areas and defending the Islamic Republic against foreign and internal threats. The decision is expected to expand the IRGC’s control in the strategic Persian Gulf which is also a major route for global oil exports.
The country’s armed forces have several times declared their alertness to confront any military invasion and give a decisive reply, as Israel and the United States have recently heightened their threats of military action against Iran.