BEIRUT, Lebanon – Amid declarations by Iranian officials that U.S. warships are “easy” targets, the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Aerospace Force said he has “detailed contingency plans to hit 35 U.S. bases in the region in the early minutes of a possible conflict.”
Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh boasted the U.S. bases around Iran are “within the reach of our missiles.”
Palestinian lands, he added, referring to Israel, “are good targets for us as well.”
The ratcheting up of saber-rattling rhetoric follows the lack of any agreement from recent talks in Moscow over Iran’s nuclear program. The talks in Moscow included Britain, China, France, Russia and the U.S., along with Germany, known as the P5+1.
The countries also make up the United Nations Security Council.
U.S., Israel done with diplomacy?
While Moscow believes progress was made at the latest round of talks about how to respond to Iran’s nuclear program, the U.S. and Israel have concluded diplomacy has run its course.
That conclusion has raised considerably the possibility the West will exercise the military option against Iran’s nuclear facilities, prompting the flurry of warnings from high-level Iranian military officials.
“We have thought of measures to set up bases and deploy missiles to destroy all these bases in the early minutes after an attack,” Hajizadeh said.
He was referring to the contingency plans Iran would implement should either Israel or the U.S. attack.
He said the purpose of current IRGC missile war games in the Gulf is to practice targeting a single “hypothetical enemy airbase,” which is said to be a replica of U.S. bases in the region.
The IRGC war games, which commenced earlier this week, are dubbed Payambar-e Azam 7, or Great Prophet 7.
During the exercise, IRGC units reportedly are firing tens of Shahab 1, 2 and 3, Fateh, Qiyam and Zelzal missiles at the “hypothetical” enemy air base. The missile firings were conducted in Iran’s Lut Desert.
‘Opportunity’ for attack
Hajizadeh said the U.S. military bases in the region “are no threat – rather, we view them as an opportunity” for attack.
Iran not only has threatened to hit U.S. bases and Israeli targets in the region but has vowed to close the Strait of Hormuz. Anticipating U.S. warships would respond, high-level Iranian military officials in recent days have warned that the ships would be “easy” targets.
The warning against U.S. warships that patrol the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz came from General Morteza Miriyan, the deputy lieutenant commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Ground Force for Operations.
He said more than 3,000 boats and dhows are trafficking, fishing and doing trade in the regional waters, and “they always go past the U.S. military ships from close distances.”
“Now, the question is, how does the U.S. want to fight with us, while we enjoy such a backup?”
To back up the claim, sources tell WND that Iran just tested a supersonic anti-ship ballistic missile, called the Khalij-e-Fars, or Persian Gulf, during the Payambar-e Azam 7 military war games. The test was 100-percent successful.
The sources added that the missile hit and destroyed specified targets in the last phase of the drills.
Hajizadeh said the Persian Gulf missile “precisely hit and destroyed the target which was several times smaller than the marine targets which can pose a threat.”
Of all the missiles fired during the test, the Persian Gulf was the last missile drill during the three-day exercise.
The supersonic missile can carry a 650-kilogram warhead and, sources say, is “immune to interception and features high-precision systems.”
Threat to close Hormuz
In underscoring Iran’s capabilities, Miriyan said Iran “enjoys the needed capability to have tough and serious confrontation against enemy threats at all levels and make them regret for their aggressive act.”
“Iran’s enemies are much more vulnerable today than ever because regional uprisings have been waged under the impression and inspirations of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, and this has caused popular support for the Islamic Republic in the region,” he said.
Miriyan also extended the threat to Israel in a speech he gave to tens of thousands of people at the Imam Khomeini mausoleum to mark the 23rd anniversary of the death of the founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Musavi Khomeini.
“The leaders of the Zionist regime (Israel) are well aware that they are more vulnerable today than any other time and that every misstep and every inappropriate move will strike them like a thunderbolt,” he said, adding that Israel’s threats to bomb Iran’s nuclear sites shows that the Israeli leadership is “deeply fearful of Iran’s power.”
Minyan said Israel and its ally, the U.S., accuse Iran of seeking a nuclear weapon, while they “have never presented any corroborative document to substantiate their allegations.”
The Islamic Republic also has warned that it could close the strategic Strait of Hormuz if it became the target of military action over its nuclear program.
Some 40 percent of trade and oil shipments transit the strait. The U.S. Navy has assessed that Iran is capable of shutting down the narrow strait either by sinking ships or planting mines.
At the same time, Gen. Masoud Jazayeri, deputy chief of state of the Iranian Armed Forces for Cultural Affairs and Defense, also sounded a similar warning of a counter attack with “multidimensional and massive attacks if necessary.”
While Jazayeri insisted Iran’s military doctrine is defensive, he said there are “certain elements to this doctrine so as not to be a mere defender against threats, and if we are attacked, we will also attack.”
Sources tell WND that if attacked, Iran will undertake a “swarm” offensive, launching its missiles at various targets and “swarming” hundreds of small hit-and-run speed boats aimed at U.S. warships. These vessels can either carry torpedoes or be loaded with explosives for suicide missions.
“With 50 small boats coming from this direction and 50 from the opposite direction and 50 from yet another direction, there is no way for that warship to escape,” one source associated with the Iranians gesturing with his hands told WND.
The source added “swarming” is a type of asymmetrical warfare tactic that Iran will use against a superior U.S. military force.
Iranian officials have indicated they could launch as many as 3,000 small vessels at the same time against U.S. warships, creating the “swarm” effect. Sources tell WND many of these small but fast vessels are capable of carrying torpedoes that can be launched into the water at considerable distances aimed at the U.S. warships.
One such torpedo of concern that the Iranians are assessed to have is the Hoot, the Iranian version of the VA-111 Shkval, a Russian designed super-cavitating torpedo capable of doing 200 knots an hour. The torpedo exceeds the speed of any torpedo in the inventory of countries belonging to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, but there has not yet been a weapon developed to counter it.
Sources add that the Iranians have torpedo tubes which are 533 millimeters in diameter, the size needed for the Shkval.
F. Michael Maloof, staff writer for the WND/ G2Bulletin, is a former senior security policy analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He can be contacted at [email protected]