A top Iranian commander warned on Sunday that Tehran was prepared for an all-out war with the United States and said his country could launch advanced missiles at US bases and aircraft carriers within a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles).
The statement appeared to be a response to Washington casting blame on Iran Saturday after Yemen’s Houthi rebels launched drone attacks on the world’s largest oil processing facility in Saudi Arabia and a major oil field, sparking huge fires at a vulnerable chokepoint for global energy supplies.
Saudi Arabia’s energy minister said the kingdom was temporarily halting production at two Aramco oil facilities that were attacked by the Yemeni rebels, interrupting about half of the company’s total output.
The Iranian-backed Houthis, who hold Yemen’s capital, Sanaa, and other territory in the Arab world’s poorest country, took responsibility for the attacks in the war against a Saudi-led coalition that has fought since 2015 to reinstate the internationally recognized Yemeni government. But the US blamed Iran, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeting, “There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.”
“Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply,” Pompeo added.
On Sunday, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Aerospace Force, Amir Ali Hajizadeh, was quoted by the semi-official Tasnim news agency as saying: “Everybody should know that all American bases and their aircraft carriers in a distance of up to 2,000 kilometers around Iran are within the range of our missiles,” according to Reuters.
“Iran has always been ready for a ‘full-fledged’ war,” Hajizadeh added, without directly mentioning the attacks in Saudi Arabia.
Also on Sunday, Iran’s foreign ministry dismissed the US accusations as “meaningless,” suggesting they were a pretext to retaliate against the Islamic Republic.
“Such fruitless and blind accusations and remarks are incomprehensible and meaningless,” ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi was quoted as saying in a statement.
The allegations over Saturday’s strikes were meant to justify “future actions” against Iran, he added.
The drone attacks affected up to half of the supplies from the world’s largest exporter of oil, though the output should be restored within days, multiple news outlets reported, citing unidentified sources. It was unclear whether anyone was injured at the Abqaiq oil processing facility and the Khurais oil field.
The attacks followed weeks of similar drone assaults on the kingdom’s oil infrastructure, but none of the earlier strikes appeared to have caused the same amount of damage. The attacks likely will further increase tensions across the Persian Gulf amid an escalating crisis between the US and Iran over its unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.
Iran has stepped up its verbal attacks on the United States in reaction to President Donald Trump nixing the 2015 nuclear deal and ramping up economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic, which have hobbled its economy.
Nevertheless, there has been talk of a potential meeting between Trump and his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani, although the latter has said bilateral talks with the US are useless unless sanctions are lifted first. While Trump has said he is ready for a meetup with no preconditions, US Treasury chief Steve Mnuchin said Thursday that such a meeting was not yet in the cards.