Iran’s elite guards to defend GulfSeptember 16th, 2008 - 7:46 pm ICT by IANS
Tehran, Sep 16 (IANS) Iran has assigned the defence of the oil-rich Persian Gulf region to its pro-cleric elite Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), a top adviser of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini said, state-run IRNA reported Tuesday. Major General Yahya Rahim Safavi, who was also a former commander of the IRGC told reporters that the army has also been assigned to the protection of the Gulf of Oman and Caspian Sea.
Any hostile targets throughout the Persian Gulf and all warships passing through the Iranian southern waterway are within the reach of the IRGC’s missiles, Safavi said.
He added: “Iran’s armed forces have the entire Hormuz Strait under control relying on their complete defensive power which includes missile units as well as the air, ground and navy forces.”
The general stressed that Iran’s armed forces, including IRGC and the 11-million-member Basij (Volunteer) forces, are ready to stand up against any threat.
The new Iranian move comes in the wake of building tension with Israel and the US and the latter’s threat of destroying the Islamic country’s nuclear installations.
Tehran had recently staged elaborate naval and air exercises in the region to test its missiles some of which are said to be capable of reaching any part of Israel.
The US and the West believe Iran has a clandestine weapons plan in the guise of a civil nuclear power programme and have demanded Tehran stop its uranium enrichment programme.
Iran has repeatedly dismissed the charge but has refused to stop its enrichment activities.