A top military commander in Iran said that his country is ready for a strong reply if the US underestimates Iran’s defensive capabilities, as the IRGC conducted new war games as a show of power.
Trump has said during his election campaign that Iran’s nuclear deal as “disastrous” and said it would be his “number one priority” to dismantle it.
These threats became clearer after Trump’s inauguration, as he signed an executive order temporarily barring thousands from seven countries in the Middle East and Africa, including Iran, from obtaining visas to travel to the United States.
The tension was raised again in issues related to Iran’s ballistic program, as he said that “Iran is playing with fire” and announced that “we’re officially putting Iran on notice,” after Iran conducted a failed ballistic missile test.
In addition, Trump declared in January applying sanctions on 25 individuals and companies connected to Iran’s ballistic missile program and those providing support to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force.
Recently, US senators said plan to impose new sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program, while Israel and Saudi Arabia backed these measures and described Iran as the main sponsor of global “terrorism” and a destabilizing force in the Middle East.
Ready for war
On Wednesday, the Revolutionary Guards concluded three days of exercises with rockets, artillery, tanks, and helicopters, weeks after Trump warned that he had put Tehran “on notice” over the missile launch.
Codenamed “Payambar-e Azam 11 (The Great Prophet)”, the military exercise was launched on Monday under the motto of “Presentation of Power and Sustainable Security” to boost the country’s military might with rockets, artillery, tanks, and helicopters.
Commander of IRGC Ground Force Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour told reporters on Wednesday that the drills were intended to send a message to “global arrogant powers”.
“The enemy should not be mistaken in its assessments, and it will receive a strong slap in the face if it does make such a mistake,” said General Mohammad Pakpour.
“The message of these exercises … for world arrogance is not to do anything stupid,” said Pakpour, quoted by the semi-official news agency Tasnim.
“Everyone could see today what power we have on the ground.” The Guards said they test-fired “advanced rockets” and used drones in the three-day exercises which were held in central and eastern Iran.
As tensions also mounted with Israel, a military analyst at Tasnim said that Iran-allied Hezbollah could use Iranian-made Fateh 110 missiles to attack the Israeli nuclear reactor at Dimona from inside Lebanon.
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said last Thursday that his group, which played a major role in ending Israel’s occupation of Lebanon, could strike Dimona.
“Since Lebanon’s Hezbollah is one of the chief holders of the Fateh 110, this missile is one of the main alternatives for targeting the Dimona installations,” Hossein Dalirian said in a commentary carried by Tasnim.
Threats never work with Iran
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the recent US bans imposed on Iran, the first by the US government since President Trump took office on January 20, and said sanctions would never work with Iran
“Everybody [in] the past who has tested Iran knows we don’t respond well to threats. We respond well to mutual respect and mutual interests,” the Iranian foreign minister added.
He noted that all efforts by the Obama administration to use economic sanctions to curtail Iran’s peaceful nuclear program eventually failed.
“The reason Obama came to the negotiating table was because sanctions did not work,” Zarif said.
“Iran with the backing of the wise participation and support of the great Iranian nation will respond proportionately and reciprocally to any move that targets the interests of the Iranian people,” Zarif said in a statement.
Zarif also said that the nuclear deal will stay in place, despite noises to the contrary from members of US President Donald Trump’s administration.
Zarif added that there was an international consensus not to let the agreement — which took two years to negotiate — unravel.
“I believe everybody, including experts in the United States, knows this was the best deal possible for all concerned, not just Iran but the US too,” he said.
“It was a triumph of diplomacy over coercion because coercion doesn’t work anymore.”
The long-awaited chance
Iran is likely to calibrate its responses based on how the U.S. acts.
Tougher U.S. sanctions could convince Tehran to start reinterpreting the terms of the nuclear deal, said Mohammad Marandi, a political analyst in Tehran.
“The Iranians will reciprocate,” he said. “The more the Americans disregard the agreement … the more the Iranians will find new ways of interpreting the text that does not work to the benefit of the United States.”
Ali-Akbar Velayati, the foreign adviser of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, predicted this week that “the US will be the final loser”.
“It is not for the first time that a naive person from the US poses threats to Iran,” he told state media.
“Our missile drills are a show of our might,” added Tehran Friday prayer leader Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami. “We are living in a world of wolves – wolves such as the arrogant government of America. In this world of wolves, should we remain unarmed and they do whatever damn things they want? No way! This will never happen!”
The more direct action could include an uptick in harassment of U.S. warships by Revolutionary Guard speedboats in the Gulf, or new cyber attacks like one that crippled the network of Saudi Arabia’s state oil company in 2012.
Iran also could boost support for regional allies such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah or the Houthis in Yemen.
In addition, this war can be the political victory that the hardliners have sought since te nuclear deal
Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei regularly criticizes the United States and the deal, saying it should not be trusted and it wasn’t doing its part of the deal.
Khamenei has already promised to “set fire” to the nuclear deal if the West violates it. and has repeatedly complained it has not received benefits promised.
Trump’s war on Iran would just prove him right and will strengthen his hold on the Iranians’ minds, who will just see the west as the devil their leader always spoke about.