Iran has no need to extend the current 2,000km range of its ballistic missiles as they can already strike enemy targets in case of aggression, the head of the Revolutionary Guard has said.
Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari told reporters in the capital, Tehran, on Tuesday that the missile range can cover “most of American interest and forces” within the region, even as he underlined the programme’s defensive purpose.
Jafari said the ballistic missile range is based on the limits set by the country’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
But he warned Iran’s enemies of the “high costs” of provoking his country.
“There is the capability to increase this range, but it is sufficient for now as the Americans are present within a 2,000km radius around the country, and would get a response in the case of any invasion,” the state-owned Press TV quoted him as saying.
The Revolutionary Guard is a separate force from Iran’s army. It answers only to the country’s supreme leader.
‘We will continue to build missiles’
Meanwhile, Iran’s military chief of staff Mohammad Hussein Bagheri was quoted as saying on Tuesday that the military is trying to improve the accuracy of its ballistic missiles, but added that they are not intended to carry nuclear warheads.
A 2,000km range ballistic missile from Iran is not capable of hitting the United States, but can cover much of the Middle East, including several American bases and naval facilities in the region.
Iran’s missile programme is not covered by the 2015 nuclear deal Tehran reached with world powers, including the US.
But in a recent speech announcing the de-certification of the Iran agreement, US President Donald Trump said he would ask Congress to impose sanctions against Iran’s missile programme.
In February and July, the US slapped sanctions on Iranian individuals and companies for its missile programme and tests.
Despite its rhetoric, the US “fears the consequences of a war with Iran”, Jafari said on Tuesday, adding that Americans “are well aware that they would be the losers if such war breaks out”.
On Sunday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told parliament members that Tehran will continue to produce missiles for defence purposes.
“We have built, are building, and will continue to build missiles,” he said.
Khamenei had also said in recent weeks that Iran’s defence, including its missile programme, are non-negotiable.