Iran says it has 100 vessels for each US warship

Last Updated: Sunday, July 25, 2010 - 00:31

Tehran: The former naval chief for Iran`s
Revolutionary Guard said the country has set aside 100
military vessels to confront each warship from the US or any
other foreign power that might pose a threat, an Iranian
newspaper reported on Saturday.

Such a military confrontation in the vital oil lanes
of the Persian Gulf would be of major global concern. The
warning builds on earlier threats by Iran to seal off the
Gulf`s strategic Strait of Hormuz -- through which 40 per cent
of the world`s oil passes -- in response to any military
attack.

"We have set aside 100 military vessels for each (US)
warship to attack at the time of necessity," Gen. Morteza
Saffari was quoted as saying by the conservative weekly
Panjereh.

The US and Israel have said military force could be
used if diplomacy fails to stop what they suspect is an
Iranian nuclear weapons programme. Iran denies any aim to
develop such weapons and says its nuclear work is for peaceful
purposes like power generation.

The US Navy`s 5th Fleet headquarters is based just
across the Gulf from Iran in Bahrain.

Saffari said more than 100 foreign warships were
currently in the Persian Gulf and the Sea of Oman, adding that
their sailors were "morsels" for Iran`s military to target,
the newspaper reported.

"Any moment the exalted supreme leader (Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei) orders - or should the enemy carry out the smallest
threat against (Iran`s ruling) Islamic system - the Guard ...
is ready for quick reaction," he was quoted as saying.

By putting the number of foreign warships at 100, the
general appeared to suggest Iran has 10,000 military vessels
at the ready. Iran is known to have many speed boats used by
the Guard, but there is no public information about how many
larger military vessels it has.

In January 2008, five small high-speed vessels
believed to be from Iran`s Revolutionary Guard briefly swarmed
three US Navy ships passing near Iranian waters in the Gulf
and delivered a radio threat to blow them up.

The war of words has intensified between Iran and the
West since the UN Security Council imposed tougher sanctions
last month in response to Iran`s refusal to halt uranium
enrichment, a technology that can be used to produce nuclear
fuel or material for an atomic bomb.

Iran put its most powerful military force, the
Revolutionary Guard, in charge of defending the country`s
territorial waters in the Persian Gulf in 2008.

"We believe the enemy, through extensive psychological
warfare, wants to coerce us, but Iran ... is ready," said
Saffari, who was the Guard`s navy chief until early May. "The
enemy won`t dare attack Iran."

PTI



First Published: Sunday, July 25, 2010 - 00:31

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