U.S. should move bases away if it pursues sanctions -Iran guards

DUBAI (Reuters) - The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday Washington should move its bases and avoid “miscalculations” over new sanctions against Tehran, Iranian agencies reported.

The Trump administration imposed the new sanctions on Tuesday over Iran’s ballistic missile program and said Tehran’s “malign activities” in the Middle East undercut any positive contributions coming from the 2015 nuclear accord.

Iran says its program to develop ballistic missiles is defensive and does not violate the nuclear accord.

“If the United States wants to pursue sanctions against Iran’s defenses and the Guards, then it has to move its regional bases to a distance of about 1,000 km (620 miles) around Iran and be aware that it would pay a high price for any miscalculations,” Tasnim and other news agencies quoted Guards commander Mohammad Ali Jafari as saying.

The Pentagon said it was not planning on its moving bases.

“We have no intention of adjusting our posture as a result of these statements,” Major Adrian Rankine-Galloway, a Pentagon spokesman, said.

The United States has bases in Qatar and Kuwait across the Gulf from Iran and the U.S. Fifth Fleet is based in nearby Bahrain.

Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has repeatedly test-fired ballistic missiles, which Washington sees as a challenge to a U.N. resolution and the nuclear deal.

“Iran’s missile capability in the air, sea and land is growing rapidly, and this is an absolute principle for us,” Jafari was quoted as saying.

In February, Washington said it was putting Tehran on notice over its “destabilizing activity” after Iran test-launched a medium-range ballistic missile that a U.S. official said had exploded after traveling 1,010 km.

In June, Iran fired missiles into eastern Syria, targeting bases of Islamic State which had claimed responsibility for attacks in Tehran that killed 18 people.

President Hassan Rouhani said earlier on Wednesday the new sanctions contravened the nuclear accord with world powers and vowed Tehran would “resist” them.

“Some of the actions of the Americans are against the spirit and even the letter of the (nuclear accord). We shall resist these,” Iranian state television quoted Rouhani as saying.

“One of the plots of the Americans is to act in such a way that would make Iran say that it is not following its commitments ... I think the Americans will fail as we will always respect our international commitments,” Rouhani said.

Rouhani said Iran would have an “appropriate response” to the sanctions, but he did not elaborate.

Iran’s parliament agreed on Tuesday to discuss measures, including increased funding for the missile program, as retaliation for the new U.S. sanctions, state media reported.

The U.S. measures signal that the administration of President Donald Trump is seeking to put more pressure on Iran while keeping in place the agreement under which Iran must curb its nuclear program in return for the lifting of international oil and financial sanctions.

Reporting by Dubai newsroom. Additional reporting by Idrees Ali in Washington; Editing by Sami Aboudi and Alison Williams