August 19, 2007 / 4:41 PM / 12 years ago

Iran commander warns enemies of "hell" in Gulf

TEHRAN (Reuters) - The Gulf would become a “hell” for Iran’s enemies if they were to attack the Islamic Republic, a commander of the country’s elite Revolutionary Guards was quoted as saying on Sunday.

It was the latest in a series of defiant statements from senior Guards figures after U.S. officials on Wednesday said the United States may soon name the force a terrorist group, a move that would enable Washington to target its finances.

“With the power the Guards have obtained now, if the enemies want to ... start a military confrontation, the Persian Gulf will become a hell for them,” Ali Razmjoo, a naval commander of the Revolutionary Guards, told the Fars News Agency.

“By using modern systems, no activities and threats by the enemies in the Persian Gulf would be hidden from us,” he said.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki separately dismissed reports of the planned U.S. move as a “propaganda game”, the ISNA news agency reported.

Tehran and Washington, which cut diplomatic ties shortly after Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, are embroiled in a deepening standoff over Tehran’s disputed nuclear program.

They also blame each other for bloodshed in Iraq.

The Revolutionary Guards has already brushed off the threat from Washington to label it a terrorist group and has said it “will grow in strength despite U.S. efforts to isolate it”.

Iran has previously threatened to strike back at U.S. regional interests if attacked over its nuclear program, rejecting Western accusations it is aimed at developing atom bombs.

The United States says it would prefer a diplomatic solution to the nuclear standoff but has not ruled out military action.

The Revolutionary Guards are an ideologically driven force, with a separate command structure from the regular military.

Some analysts say the force has grown in influence since the election in 2005 of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a former commander. They say ex-officers have been appointed to political posts and more may run in the March parliamentary election.

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