Iranian commander says war games just for defensive purposes
A senior Iranian military commander said Monday that war games staged by the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) were just for defensive purposes and should not be regarded as a military threat.
"The manoeuvres are solely for confronting, and not making threats, and this defensive approach of the Iranian armed forces is clearly reflected in Iran's political doctrine," IRGC deputy commander Hossein Salami told Fars news agency.
The latest remarks by Salami played down his previous warning on Sunday that Tehran would retaliate against any country used as a base for military operations against Iran.
The warning mainly included neighbouring countries such as NATO member Turkey, as well as Gulf sheikhdoms which all have good ties with Iran.
"If our enemies threaten us, then we have to threaten back and our manoeuvres are to show the national will to confront such military threats against our country," Salami said.
The tensions between Iran and the West, including Israel, over Tehran's nuclear programmes and its perceived uncompromising stance have increased the probability of a military confrontation.
Iranian vice-president Mohammad-Reza Rahimi and several IRGC generals even warned to close down the Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf, blocking a vital international oil route.
But Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi played down the threats and said that such an option was not on Iran's agenda.
Israeli threats to attack Iran's nuclear sites - and reports that such an attack would take place by April this year - have prompted Tehran to stage military manoeuvres keeping its forces ready in case of such an attack.