A top commander in Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps said Friday the US “wouldn’t dare to launch military action against us,” amid rising tensions and escalating rhetoric in recent days.
Yadollah Javani, the IRGC’s deputy head for political affairs, made the comments after US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday threatened a “swift and decisive” response to any attack by Iran.
And while President Donald Trump on Thursday said he “would like to see [Iran] call me” for talks, Javani told the Tasnim news agency there would be no talks, adding Tehran saw Washington as “unreliable.”
The United States has in recent days announced the deployment of an aircraft carrier strike group and nuclear-capable bombers to the region, saying it had information of plans for Iranian-backed attacks.
An American official told the Associated Press the decision to send in more forces was based in part on intelligence indications that Iran had moved short-range ballistic missiles by boat in waters off its shores.
“We have information that you don’t want to know about,” Trump told reporters. “They were very threatening and we have to have great security for this country and many other places.”
Asked about the possibility of military conflict with Iran, the president said: “I guess you could say that always, right? I don’t want to say no, but hopefully that won’t happen. We have one of the most powerful ships in the world that is loaded up and we don’t want to do anything.”
Meanwhile NBC News reported Thursday night that in a rare occurrence last week, US national security adviser John Bolton gathered the nation’s top defense, intelligence and diplomatic officials at CIA headquarters to discuss developments on the Iranian front.
Those present included Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford, CIA Director Gina Haspel, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats.
Unnamed officials told the network the meeting did not focus on the reasons that led the US government to deploy military reinforcements to the Middle East, but did not give any details on the contents of the meeting.
Former CIA officials told NBC that such discussions were previously held to discuss sensitive covert operations.
The US’s military moves have frightened some European allies as well as Trump’s Democratic rivals, who fear the administration is pushing for war based on overhyped intelligence.
Pompeo, who earlier canceled a trip to Greenland to rush back to Washington, however said: “We do not seek war.”
“But Iran’s 40 years of killing American soldiers, attacking American facilities, and taking American hostages is a constant reminder that we must defend ourselves,” said Pompeo, referencing the 1979 Islamic revolution that transformed Iran from close US ally to sworn foe.
Meanwhile Vice Admiral Jim Malloy, commander of the United States Naval Forces Central Command, told Reuters he would bring the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln through the Gulf’s sensitive Strait of Hormuz if need be.
“If I need to bring it inside the strait, I will do so,” Malloy said. “I’m not restricted in any way, I’m not challenged in any way, to operate her anywhere in the Middle East.”
Iran on Wednesday said it would suspend some commitments under a 2015 nuclear accord rejected by Trump, frustrated that renewed US sanctions have prevented the country from enjoying the economic fruits of compliance with the deal.