The following are excerpts from an interview with Hosein Salami, former deputy commander of operations of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. The interview was conducted by Jaam-e-Jam 3 TV on January 26, 2005:
Hosein Salami: We have 2,500 'Ashura combat battalions. They are capable of conducting ground combat infinitely.
You are familiar with the Basij forces. Our friends and our enemies are familiar with them as well. They seek martyrdom. They yearn to die in times of crisis. They are prepared to die for the homeland. This constitutes an invincible defensive depth.
We have 2,700 kilometers of sea border. We can control half of the world's traffic of energy. We control an economic regional of international significance, which is justly considered – by the Americans as well – as the blood of the new industry. We have two navies with many combat vessels, they can carry out both defensive and offensive operations within a radius of hundreds of kilometers.
The world is aware of our country's missile capability. In this [manufacturing] capability we've become self-sufficient. We are capable of carrying out – at any time, any place and to any degree – widespread operations Iran's "security belt."
Interviewer: How do you define this security belt?
Hosein Salami: This belt covers a range of at least 2,000 km beyond our borders. All the vital interests of many great powers lie within this range. They have defined their vital interests in this region… Their bases are here. We have made new achievements even in our air-defense system. We have made outstanding progress in our air-force capabilities as well. Some of the information cannot be made public, and I myself am not up-to-date on much of it.
The [Americans] eliminated the Taliban and Saddam. They conducted operations in Yugoslavia. Therefore, we are aware of the Americans' real power. Our country has unique capacities that no other power in the Middle East or in the Persian Gulf possesses. This is the ability to manage regional crises. This is a fact. If Iran wishes to cause turbulence in the crisis areas around it, and to leave its mark - stability and security in the region will change dramatically.