(AFP) – Sep 23, 2007
TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran on Sunday bluntly warned the United States against launching an attack on the Islamic republic, saying that American forces in the region were well within the reach of Iranian missiles.
"Today, the United States must know that their 200,000 soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are within the reach of Iran's fire," said Yahya Rahim Safavi, the top military adviser to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
"When the Americans were beyond our shores, they were not within our reach but today it is very easy for us to deal them blows," he said according to the Mehr news agency.
His comments came at the start of an annual defence week which Iran marked on Saturday by showing off its military prowess at a parade in Tehran -- including a new longer-range missile that could reach Israel.
Khamenei himself, in his first such intervention since French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner warned the world to brace for war with Iran, said any attack on Iran would not be a simple "hit and run."
Kouchner was referring last week to the failure to date of international diplomatic efforts to halt Iran's controversial uranium-enrichment programme, which the US and its allies charge is aimed at creating an atomic bomb.
"Military aggression against Iran is no longer a case of 'you hit and you run'," said Khamenei, in comments broadcast on state television late on Saturday.
"Anyone who launches an aggression will seriously suffer the consequences of this aggression."
Deputy parliament speaker Mohammad Reza Bahonar added on Sunday: "Any military attack against Iran will send the region up in flames."
The Islamic republic's arch foes the United States and Israel have never ruled out military action against Iran, although US officials say they want to solve the crisis diplomatically.
A longer-range missile labelled Ghadr-1 (Power) -- which Western experts had said they knew was in development -- was shown at Saturday's parade for the first time in public.
The official announcer at the parade told reporters that the weapon had a range of 1,800 kilometres (1,100 miles), sufficient to put US bases in the Middle East within reach as well as Israel.
The Ghadr missile, which has a "baby bottle" style nose for extra aerodynamic efficiency, is seen as an improved version of Iran's existing longer-range Shahab series, which was also paraded.
Officials have said in the past that the Shahab-3 could reach a distance of 2,000 kilometres (1,250 miles), but the announcer said it had a 1,300-kilometre (800-mile) range.
"Our power in ballistic missiles is not of a kind that the Americans can easily destroy. We have taken the necessary measures to protect our ballistic power in the face of enemy threats," added Safavi.
The parade was also marked by a litany of slogans calling for "Death to America" and "Death to Israel." Western military attaches, apparently warned of this in advance, boycotted the rally for the second year running.
"Israel should be eliminated" and "No Iranian Muslim, no Muslim recognises Israel," were among the slogans borne on the back of military vehicles, quoting the words of Iran's revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
Officials said that only weapons built by Iran were shown at the parade, in a bid to emphasise the country's self-sufficiency in military technology.
The parade came amid growing tensions over Iran's nuclear programme, which the United States alleges is cover for a nuclear weapons drive but which Tehran insists is aimed solely at producing electricity.
Khamenei brushed off Western warnings of conflict, however, saying "they talk like an illiterate person who is showing their biceps and fists against a learned person."
Iran has said it will never initiate an attack, but has always warned it would launch a crushing and swift response to any aggression.
After Kouchner said he was willing to come to Iran if invited, foreign ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said there would be "no obstacle" to such a visit.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad meanwhile left Tehran on Sunday for his third visit to the United States, where he was due to address the UN General Assembly in New York.
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