Iran warns 'launchpad' countries of reprisals


TEHRAN – Iran will target any country used as a launchpad for attacks against its soil, their deputy Revolutionary Guards commander said, expanding Tehran’s range of threats in an increasingly volatile stand-off with world powers over its nuclear ambitions.

Last week, Iran’s supreme clerical leader threatened reprisals for the West’s ban on Iranian oil and the US defence secretary was quoted as saying Israel was likely to bomb Iran within months to stop it assembling nuclear weapons.

Although broadened and sharpened financial sanctions have begun to inflict serious economic pain in Iran, its oil minister asserted on Saturday it would make no nuclear retreat.

Iran says its nuclear programme is for civilian energy purposes. But its recent shift of uranium enrichment to a mountain bunker possibly impervious to conventional bombing, and refusal to negotiate peaceful guarantees for the programme or open up to UN nuclear inspectors, have thickened an atmosphere of confrontation, raising fears for Gulf oil supplies.

“Any spot used by the enemy for hostile operations against Iran will be subjected to retaliatory aggression by our armed forces,” Hossein Salami, deputy head of the Revolutionary Guards, told the Fars news agency yesterday.

The guards began two days of military manoeuvres in southern Iran on Saturday in another show of force for Iran’s adversaries associated with tensions over its disputed nuclear programme.

The US and Israel, Iran’s arch-enemies, have not ruled out a military strike on Tehran if diplomacy fails to resolve the nuclear stalemate. – (Reuters)