The commander of Iran?s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force declared Wednesday that the IRGC has prepared comprehensive contingency plans to attack 35 American military bases in the region ?within minutes? of an American military strike on his country.
?We have thought of measures to set up bases and deploy missiles to destroy all these bases in the early minutes after an attack,? said Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh.
Hajizadeh said the 35 American bases were within range of Iran?s ballistic missile arsenal, the most advanced of which can reportedly hit targets 1,300 miles away.
This figure is important because the United States and its allies maintain several operational military bases in the region, including the home of the Navy?s 5th Fleet in Bahrain, a site only about 120 miles from Iran?s southern border.
Another base used by the United States is located at the United Arab Emirates? al-Dafra air base, located less than 200 miles from the southern coast of Iran.
In April, the al-Dafra base received a shipment of multiple American F-22 stealth fighters. At the time of the delivery a U.S. Air Force spokesman assured the press that the deployment of these jets should not be interpreted as a threat to Iran.
A report published by ABC News, however, casts doubt on that comment. In April 2011 an official at Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of the F-22, told ABC News ?that the planes ? which have never been used in combat ? could find a home in quick strike missions in countries like Iran or North Korea.?
In light of all this, Hajizadeh?s promise of swift retribution for an American attack is perhaps predictable. So are similar statements made by a member of the Iranian Parliament.
Mansour Haqiqatpour, a member of the Iranian parliament?s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, echoed the military commander?s sentiments, saying, ?The Islamic Revolution Guard Corps and the Iranian Army?s missiles can target and destroy any threatening target in the region,? according to a statement published by the Iranian Fars News Service.
It?s not just American concerns that will come under Iranian missile fire should the United States attack, however. In his statement, General Hajizadeh said that ?the occupied [Palestinian] lands [Israel] are good targets for us as well.?
Meanwhile, Haqiqatpour also included Israel in the threat, informing the Fars News Service that Iran keeps close tabs on activity at American bases in the Middle East and that the ?slightest mistake [on their part] will cause them and their regional allies regret.?
?They will definitely incur losses,? he warned.
Currently, the United States maintains known military bases in Afghanistan, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, and Kyrgyzstan.
These warnings by Iranian officials coincide with the fact that on Tuesday, the IRGC Aerospace Force began a missile wargames operation codenamed Payambar-e Azam 7 (The Great Prophet 7). The exercise included firing tens of short-, mid- and long-range missiles from bases located throughout Iran at a target situated somewhere in central Iran.
The missiles were launched at a mock enemy air base described by IRGC officials as a replica of the American air bases in the region.
Iran?s top military officials have repeatedly insisted that if either Israel or the United States attacks their country, Iran would instantly launch missiles targeted at all American bases in the Middle East and that the IRGC would close the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
An estimated 40 percent of the world?s oil supply passes through that critical waterway.
In recent weeks, Israel has threatened to carry out a preemptive military strike against Iran in order to disable that nation?s nuclear facilities. Most doubt that Israel could conduct such an operation without the logistical support of the armed forces of the United States. There is little doubt, however, that the United States if asked would deny such assistance to its staunchest ally in the region.
In addition to the potential for a joint Israeli-American strike on Iran, Tehran?s threats against American and Israeli interests are also likely a response to Sunday?s implementation of a complete embargo by the European Union on the purchase of Iranian crude oil.
Of course, the recent revelations of a cyberattack on Iran?s nuclear infrastructure launched by the Obama administration may also have triggered the uptick in Iranian threats of military attacks on American bases.
The story of the intentional infection of Iran?s computer with the Stuxnet virus is particularly interesting given the parameters of the operation, as well as the effect such an act of computer sabotage on another nation would have on the credibility of the United States. Just last year, the Pentagon issued a warning of its own declaring that any attempt to violate the computer security of the United States would be considered an ?act of war.? Are we, then, already at war with Iran? Is what would be an act of war if perpetrated by another nation simply a clever tactic when deployed by the United States? It would seem so.
Regardless of the frequency and ferocity of the Iranian warnings, many defense experts are skeptical of Iran?s military might and say ?the country?s military capability would be no match for sophisticated U.S. defense systems.?
In a statement to the New York Times, one Pentagon official issued his own warning to Iran.
?The message to Iran is, ?Don?t even think about it,? ? the senior Defense Department official told the Times. ?Don?t even think about closing the strait. We?ll clear the mines. Don?t even think about sending your fast boats out to harass our vessels or commercial shipping. We?ll put them on the bottom of the gulf.?
All this rattling of sabers might actually come to something in the near future. In addition to President Obama?s launch of the Stuxnet virus and his Defense Department?s menacing response to Iran?s hostile posturing, there are the statements made by Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney regarding his take on possible military strikes against Iran and his role in initiating them.
Appearing with Bob Schieffer on CBS?s Face the Nation, Romney said that if he is elected in November he would not need congressional approval to start a war with Iran.
Specifically, Romney said:
I can assure you if I?m president, the Iranians will have no question but that I will be willing to take military action if necessary to prevent them from becoming a nuclear threat to the world. I don?t believe at this stage, therefore, if I?m president that we need to have a war powers approval or special authorization for military force. The president has that capacity now. I understand that some in the Senate for instance have written letters to the president indicating you should know that a containment strategy is unacceptable. We cannot survive a course of action which would include a nuclear Iran we must be willing to take any and all actions. [Emphasis added.]
Apparently, a President Romney would retain his predecessor?s predilection for ignoring the Constitution and usurping war-making powers that are not his.
When contacted for a comment neither the Defense Department nor the Romney campaign would comment on Iran?s latest threats of retaliation.