TEHRAN (AFP) — The new head of Iran's Revolutionary Guards warned the United States Tuesday that Tehran has identified its "weak points" in Iraq and Afghanistan and would launch a crushing response to any attack.
The comments by Mohammad Ali Jaafari, appointed head of the elite force by the supreme leader just 10 days ago, come amid mounting tensions between Tehran and Washington over Iran's controversial nuclear drive and its role in Iraq.
"The Revolutionary Guards have identified all the weak points of the enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan and based on this have consolidated the defensive capabilities of the country," General Jaafari said.
"And if the enemy wants to take any impudent action the Islamic republic will for sure give a decisive and teeth-breaking response," he said, according to state broadcasting.
Jaafari did not explicitly say that Iran would strike the US "weak points" if attacked but Tehran has always warned of a tough response to any aggression while insisting it would never initiate an attack.
General Rahim Yahya Safavi, Jaafari's predecessor and now special military advisor to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, had warned last week that the United States did not appreciate how at risk its troops were.
"It can not evaluate the vulnerability of its 200,000 troops in the region since we have accurately identified all of their camps," said Safavi.
The tensions over the Iranian nuclear programme -- which the United States alleges is aimed at making nuclear weapons -- have been compounded by US accusations that Iran is behind attacks on US troops in Iraq.
The top US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, said on Monday that Iran was fighting a "proxy war" in Iraq through the covert operations unit of the Revolutionary Guards -- the Quds force
"It is increasingly apparent to both coalition and Iraqi leaders that Iran, through the use of the Quds force, seeks to turn the Iraqi special groups into a Hezbollah-like force to serve its interests and fight a proxy war against the Iraqi state and coalition forces in Iraq," Petraeus said.
Washington has never ruled out taking military action against Tehran and the war of words has intensified in recent weeks with President George W. Bush warning that Iran's atomic programme could lead to a "nuclear holocaust."
Tehran has an array of medium range missiles and claims that its longer-range Shahab-3 missile has a reach of 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) which would put Israel and US bases on the Arabian Peninsula within reach.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has dismissed the chance of any US attack against Iran but influential former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has warned of the dangers still posed by the United States.
Iran vehemently denies seeking nuclear weapons and also rejects charges it is interfering in Iraq, saying it fully supports the Baghdad government's drive to restore security in the war-torn country.
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