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memri
February 9, 2007 No.
1457

The Middle East on a Collision Course (5): Iran Steps up Threats to Retaliate in the Event of an American Attack

Alongside intensive contacts with Saudi Arabia aimed at halting the deterioration in the Middle East and at resolving the crisis in the region, Iran has in the last three weeks also voiced increasingly severe threats to harm Western forces and interests, both in the Middle East and outside it. It has also threatened to use the "oil weapon," i.e. to stop the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz.

The following are the main points of recent threats by Iran:

Threats Against U.S. Forces and Interests in the Middle East and Against Israel

In a meeting with Iranian air force commanders on February 8, 2007, Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei threatened that any attack by the U.S. would be met with a forceful Iranian response: "[The U.S.] is not frightening the Iranian nation with its [threats of attack]. After all, hasn't America attacked Iran before? Moreover, the enemies know well that any aggression [on their part] will be met with a forceful response on the part of the entire Iranian nation against the aggressors and against their interests all over the world."[1]

In a February 8, 2007speech, Expediency Council Chairman Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who is considered the No. 2 figure in the Iranian regime, warned the U.S. that "any military attack on Iran will cost the enemies of Islam dearly."

Iranian Expediency Council Secretary Mohsen Rezai warned the U.S. of the serious consequences it could expect if it attacked Iran: "The Iranian people will deal... America 10 slaps in the face, so that it will never be able to again show a presence [in the region].... America knows that the Iranian people is completely different from the Iraqi people and the Afghani people, and therefore Iran cannot be dealt with by means of a military strategy..."[2]

During a conference at the Revolutionary Guards Naval Forces headquarters, Revolutionary Guards Corps Commander Yahya Rahim Safavi threatened that "in the event of [the realization] of any kind of military threat, even limited or local, Iran's armed forces will provide a crushing and inconceivable response against the invaders, and will endanger the interests of the foreigners in the region... Any kind of attack on Iran will bring in its wake American humiliation in the world..." [3]

Iranian Defense Minister: "Iran's Reaction [To An Attack] Will Be Such That It Will Cause the Invaders to Forever Regret their Action..."

In a February 6, 2007 interview, Iranian Defense Minister Mustafa Najar told Al-Jazeera TV: "There is no doubt that any threat against Iran will meet with the most deterring and destructive aggressive force, and its reaction will be such that it will cause the invaders to forever regret their action... We say to America that if it ignites the fire of war, it will doubtless engulf the White House more than it burns others..."[4]

Kayhan: "[When] the Mighty Missiles Are Launched from Iran, Israel Will Become a Scorching Hell for the Zionists"

A January 22, 2007 editorial titled "Is War on the Way?" in the Iranian daily Kayhan, which is affiliated with Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, noted that an attack on Iran would bring harsh Iranian retaliation against U.S. forces in the Middle East, their allies, and Israel: "...Even though all the signs indicate that America's threats of a military strike against Iran are [nothing but] psychological warfare... the option [of a military strike], however small and negligible, must not be discounted. Senior Iranian officials must maneuver Iran's resources and levers of power, and place them on the alert [for possible action], while preparing all the means and making all the necessary arrangements for the fateful day which may come... Fortunately, we are already prepared and on alert... The victory of Hizbullah – which is the symbol of Islamic Iran's strength – in its 33-day war in Lebanon, and the political and security earthquake in Israel, cannot be denied...

"The Americans must be warned of the terrible consequences that await them and their allies should they act foolishly. The American soldiers [stationed] to the east and west of the Iranian [border] are in range of our fire. [When] the mighty missiles are launched from Iran, Israel will become a scorching hell for the Zionists, [in which they will burn] before reaching actual Hell. Some 24 million of the 30 million barrels of oil produced daily by OPEC pass through the Strait of Hormuz. Some of the Arab states in the region... will not only face a large economic and social crisis – their very existence will be in serious danger...

"The clever and civilized people of Egypt, Jordan, Bahrain, and large parts of Saudi Arabia will seize upon this security crisis in the region as the best possible opportunity to take revenge upon their governments. The Americans, of course, have already tasted the bitterness of military conflict with Iran during the Iran-Iraq war. Back then, the Islamic Republic of Iran was a newly born state with limited resources and capabilities, [whereas] today..."[5]

In another editorial, on February 5, 2007, Kayhan noted that "if Iran wanted, and if it distanced itself somewhat from seeking peace, the region would change completely... NATO forces in Afghanistan, the U.S. Fifth Fleet in Bahrain, the British soldiers in southern Iraq, and every element identified with the American camp would see his death tangibly in front of his eyes..."[6]

Elements in Revolutionary Guards Threaten to Abduct U.S. Troops

In a January 29, 2007 article titled "Cheaper and Easier than Chinese Goods" in the Iranian weekly Sobh-e Sadeq, which is the mouthpiece of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei circulated among the Revolutionary Guards, elements in the Revolutionary Guards threatened to abduct U.S. soldiers around the world: "Top American officials must understand that because they deploy their troops in Iraq, Afghanistan, Central Asia and the Caucasus, Pakistan, India, the African continent, Latin America, and even in Europe, capturing them and transferring them to any destination is easier than preparing a container of cheap Chinese goods [for shipment].

"When the American security officers fall easily to the untrained and inexperienced Mahdi Army forces, and when a senior [Israeli] Mossad official is liquidated at the wave of a hand in Paris, and when a ship belonging to the English forces disappears in the Arvand River [in the Persian Gulf] under unclear circumstances – all these can constitute a clear message to those who entertain false imaginings in their minds... All it would take is for [Iran] to open its wallet a little [to its supporters in various parts of the world], and we will witness long lines of blond, blue-eyed officers who will become the prisoners of the fighting cocks who wait only for a signal – and a word to the wise is sufficient."[7]

In addition, Heshmatollah Falahat-Pishe, member of Iran's Parliamentary National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said: "There is a possibility of the outbreak of spreading war in the region, and this is because Iran has red lines that will be crossed [even] by the entrance of a single missile and by [any preparation] for war... Iran's red lines are different from those of the other countries. [The Americans] know very well that in the event of an attack on Iran, American interests in the [Middle East] region will be targeted, which would endanger 26% of the world's energy sources."[8]

Iran Threatens to Use the "Oil Weapon"

Various elements in Iran's political arena threatened to use the "oil weapon" in the event of a U.S. attack on Iran, and to interfere with the oil supply to the West by closing the Strait of Hormuz.

Elham Amin-Zadeh, member of Iran's Parliamentary National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, said: "There can be no reservations regarding Iran's being the strongest country in the Persian Gulf. We have a great deal of say in the Strait of Hormuz, and this means that we can use various tools in this region... If we apply temporary restrictions in this region [i.e. the Strait of Hormuz], the blow will be to the countries that use this maritime passage, temporarily or permanently..."[9]

Heshmatollah Falahat-Pishe said: "The military threat to Iran in the Persian Gulf and the Straits of Hormuz is a threat to 46% [sic] of the world's oil and energy [supply], and this is considered the most strategic energy [source] in the world... Instability in this region may undermine the world economy, and it is Iran, more than any other [country], that guarantees the security of this strategic waterway... Under certain circumstances of insecurity, these passageways will easily fall into difficulties, and in this way the flow of oil will cease... The countries that host the American soldiers in the region are considered to bear the chief responsibility for the insecurity of the Persian Gulf..."[10]

Majlis Energy Committee Chairman: "Iran has Total Control Over the Strait of Hormuz, Which is the Most Important Route in the World Supplying Energy to the West"

Majlis Energy Committee Chairman Kamal Daneshyar said: "Iran has total control over the Strait of Hormuz, which is the most important route in the world supplying energy to the West... Sparking insecurity in this region will ignite a fire that cannot be easily extinguished. The statesmen of the world know that Iran plays a major and critical role in the Persian Gulf region, and that it enjoys power and greatness due to its geographic location, its Islamic ideology, its revolutionary leadership, its executive capability, and its military capability... If the American forces carry out any operation aimed at striking at Iran's interests, we will defend our interests in this region, and we will endanger America's security in the Persian Gulf."[11]


Endnotes:

[1] ISNA (Iran), February 8, 2007.

[2] Mehr (Iran), January 20, 2007.

[3] Fars (Iran), February 3, 2007.

[4] Aftab (Iran), February 6, 2007.

[5] Kayhan (Iran), January 22, 2007.

[6] Kayhan (Iran), February 5, 2007.

[7] Sobh-e Sadegh (Iran), January 29, 2007.

[8] ISNA (Iran), January 31, 2007.

[9] Mehr (Iran), January 20, 2007.

[10] Mehr (Iran), Iran, January 20, 2007.

[11] Mehr (Iran), January 20, 2007.