Iran’s military threatens retaliation if US quits nuclear deal

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 08 October, 2017, 11:03pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 08 October, 2017, 11:04pm

The head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps warned the United States on Sunday that US military forces in the region could face retaliation if Washington designates the IRGC a terrorist group and imposes fresh sanctions.

If the United States were to “stupidly” take that step, it should perhaps consider moving its military bases outside the 2,000km range of Iranian missiles, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari suggested, in remarks carried by the IRGC’s website.

Jafari said the IRGC – the most powerful branch of Iran’s armed forces – would treat US military forces in the region no differently than it treats Islamic State terrorists in such a case.

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Such hostile US action would be considered a breach of the nuclear deal that Iran signed with world powers in 2015, he said, adding that Iran would view it as an opportunity to develop its “defence and missile programmes in the region”.

Iran and the United States have long accused each other of supporting terrorist groups in the Middle East, such as in Syria and Iraq.

Jafari’s remarks came two days after US President Donald Trump claimed Iran “supports terrorism and exports violence, bloodshed, and chaos across the Middle East” and suggested it has “not lived up to the spirit of” the nuclear deal.

Speaking just before a meeting with top military brass, Trump vowed to “put an end to Iran’s continued aggression and nuclear ambitions” and said a related announcement will be made “very shortly”.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said later on Friday that Trump and his team have been “looking at all of the bad behaviour of Iran” including its nuclear programme, missile testing, cyberattacks, destabilisation of the region and state sponsorship of terrorism.

“He wants to look for a broad strategy that addresses all of those problems, not just one-offing those. That’s what his team is focused on and that’s what he’ll be rolling out to address that as a whole in the coming days,” she said.

There have been strong indications that the Trump administration will not recertify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear deal it inked with the US, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia in July 2015, under which it agreed to curb activities such as uranium enrichment in return for the lifting of crippling economic and financial sanctions.

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Trump has repeatedly described the deal as “embarrassment” to the US and suggested he wants to tear it up.

His administration has recertified Iranian compliance twice before under a law that requires it to notify Congress every 90 days. The next review ends later this month.