On February 3, 2018, in advance of Iran's Revolution Day, which this year fell on February 11, Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Gen. Hossein Salami was interviewed on the "Headline of the Evening" show on the state IRINN television channel. In the interview, he noted that Iran had improved its missile capability and accuracy, so that it would be able to strike U.S. aircraft carriers.
Gen. Hossein Salami. (Source: Tasnim, February 4 , 2018)
Salami said that Iran had produced an improved drone reverse-engineered from the American RQ-170 Sentinel drone captured in 2011, and warned that American aircraft could now be identified by Iranian radar. Iran has diverse defense capabilities on the land, on the sea, and in the air, he said, adding that Iran's many "missile cities" were "situated in locations that are very safe from enemy attacks, both conventional and non-conventional" and offered the option of launching different types of missiles simultaneously. Syria and Iraq, he noted, were considered Iran's strategic depth because Iran was not restricting its security to its borders alone but was fighting the enemy far from them.
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The following is a summary of Gen. Salami's statements in the interview, as reported by Tasnim:
"Today, we can deal with the greatest threats and fight the greatest enemies, that is, America. In the [1980-88 Iran-Iraq] war, we realized that we have no ally [that meets] its commitments [and that] we must rely on [our own] inner potential and create might. We must triumph.
"We examined all the points of might of the front of the arrogance [i.e. the U.S.] and we have an accurate assessment of the enemy's strengths and weaknesses. We know America's aerial and naval capabilities around Iran. We have always considered the enemy's military option as real, whether it was on the table or under it.
"We had to find a solution in order to defeat the American aircraft carriers. The way was not to build [Iranian] aircraft carriers like the American ones; we realized that we had to improve the accuracy of [our] ballistic missiles and acquire the ability to attack [U.S.] aircraft carriers before the aircraft reached operational range.
"In this way, through trial and error, we continued with the work until we succeeded.
"Today, we have drone technology, to the point where not only have we replicated the American RQ-170 model through reverse engineering, but have even improved it. We have produced a drone that can fly for 36 to 48 hours at a time, with a range of thousands of kilometers, and can carry weapons, carry out operations, and evade radar.
"Several months ago, I spoke with a certain senior official from one of the [world's] technological powers. During his visit to one of our manufacturing sites, he said, 'You are producing a great culture.' This is a great power's recognition [of our capability].
"When we carried out exercises in the our southern waters, we discovered on our local radar enemy stealth aircraft, and chased them off.
"The enemy knows that firing the first bullet and launching the first missile will lead to war without end; therefore, to date the enemy has taken no [such] military step.
"We are on the level of defensive strategy and offensive strategy. We have the capability to strike powerful and incessant blows to any enemy base in the region. We can fight the enemy on the sea or on any other level.
"There are many IRGC missile cities, and they are situated in locations that are very safe from enemy attacks, both conventional and non-conventional. Not all our missiles are at the missile cities. We can simultaneously carry out many launches of different types, and no one can deal with [such an attack].
"We have diverse defense might plans – missiles are [only] one of them. We will defend our interests and our honor with the missiles.
"The Iranian people certainly does not want Iran to become a focus of attacks. Therefore, all the countries in the region that are now fighting [our] enemy are considered our strategic arena. It's not wise for a country to restrict itself to its own borders.
"Today, the Syrian and Iraqi armies are considered our strategic depth. The most correct strategy is to fight the enemy far from our borders."
 Tasnim (Iran), February 4, 2018.