Politics

Iran threatens to strike countries used as launch pad in attacks

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Iranian soldiers chant anti-Israeli and anti-US slogans on the first day of celebrations marking the 33th anniversary of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's return from exile at Khomeini's mausoleum in Tehran on February 1, 2012.

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ATTA KENARE

Iran will target any country used as a launch pad for attacks against the Islamic Republic, a Revolutionary Guard commander warned Sunday.

"Any spot used by the enemy for hostile operations against Iran will be subjected to retaliatory aggression by our armed forces," Hossein Salami, deputy commander of the elite Revolutionary Guard, Iran’s most powerful military force, said Sunday according to Iran's semi-official Fars news agency, cited by RT News and others. 

Separately, Brigadier General Mohammad Pakpour, "commander of the IRGC (Islamic Revolution Guards Corps) Ground Force" according to Fars, reportedly said Iran would "respond with full force to any aggression or even threats."

The Guards on Saturday also began military maneuvers in southern Iran, Reuters reported.

The latest Iranian posturing comes amid a standoff with world powers over Tehran's nuclear program and Western sanctions.

Media outlets interpreted it as a warning to Iran’s neighbors not to let their territory or airspace be used by the US, Israel or other powers a base for an attack.

According to Reuters, "Iran's supreme clerical leader last week threatened reprisals for the West's new ban on Iranian oil exports and the US defense secretary was quoted as saying Israel was likely to bomb Iran within months to stop it assembling nuclear weapons."

(GlobalPost reports: European Union agrees to Iran oil sanctions)

The Associated Press, meantime, wrote overnight that world leaders were genuinely concerned that an Israeli military attack on the Islamic Republic could be imminent — "an action that many fear might trigger a wider war, terrorism and global economic havoc."

High-level foreign dignitaries, including the U.N. chief and the head of the American military, have stopped in Israel in recent weeks, urging leaders to give the diplomatic process more time to work. But U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has reportedly concluded that an Israeli attack on Iran is likely in the coming months.

Neither the US nor Israel have ruled out a military strike on the Islamic Republic if diplomacy fails to resolve the nuclear stalemate.

And on Sunday, Israel appointed a new air force chief, a former military planner who last month warned publicly that Israel "could not deal a knock-out blow to its enemies, including Iran, in any regional conflict," Reuters reported.

Iran's Salami did not specify which countries might act as hosts for military action against it, however Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait all host US military facilities.

According to Reuters, the six Arab states in the Gulf Cooperation Council have said they would not allow their territories to be used for attacks on Iran.