Iran has threatened to hit back with an “even more decisive strike” if the US bombs its nuclear installations, as international tensions rise following Washington’s imposition of sanctions against Teheran.
The head of the Revolutionary Guards – the elite Iranian force designated a “proliferator of weapons of mass destruction” yesterday – dismissed talk of US air strikes but said Iran was ready to defend itself if attacked.
“The Islamic Republic has the strength and power of its people’s faith. This power is joined with experience, knowledge and technology in the realms of defence,” Mohammad Ali Jaafari said.
“The enemy knows it cannot make any mistake, so these words are just exaggeration. We will reply to any strike with an even more decisive strike.”
He was speaking after the US imposed unilateral economic sanctions against 20 Iranian organisations linked to the Revolutionary Guards, the influential ideological force within the Iranian military.
The measures, the most severe action taken against Iran since the aftermath of 1979 revolution, are designed to cut international financial support to Teheran’s theocratic regime
The Iranian foreign ministry declared today that the sanctions were illegal and would not work.
Spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said: “The hostile American policies towards the respectable people of Iran and the country’s legal institutions are contrary to international law, without value and – as in the past – doomed to failure.”
Beijing and Moscow have already come out against the sanctions, with President Vladimir Putin of Russia comparing the Bush administration to “mad people wielding razor blades”
The Chinese foreign ministry today said the penalties would “only complicate the issue”.
“Dialogue and negotiations are the best approach to resolving the Iranian nuclear issue,” it said in a statement.
Announcing the decision yesterday, US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice insisted that a “diplomatic solution” to the differences between Iran and the West was still possible but described the actions as part of a decision “to confront the threatening behaviour of the Iranians”.
Growing frustration within the Bush administration at the blocking strategy of Moscow and Beijing against any United Nations measures on Iran is becoming increasingly evident.
Nicholas Burns, US assistant secretary of state, suggested that Russia and China are propping up President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s regime.
“The Russian government should stop selling arms to Iran and the Chinese government should stop investing in Iran,” he told the BBC.