Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Iran Commander: Exercise To Prepare For Possible US Attack

Dow Jones Newswires:
A top commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Gen. Hossein Kargar, said Monday that the current maneuvers in the Persian Gulf and Arabian Sea aim to prepare the troops in case of attack by the U.S. "Regarding the threats by the global arrogance, defensive preparation is a task of the armed forces," Kargar was quoted by the state news agency IRNA as saying.

The Iranian government often refers to the U.S. as "global arrogance."

Kargar's comments come after Iran successfully tested its second new torpedo in as many days Monday, the latest weapon to be unveiled during war games in the Gulf.

A spokesman for the elite Revolutionary Guards indicated the new, Iranian-made torpedo was more powerful and capable of going deeper than previous ones in Iran's arsenal.

Gen. Mohammad Ebrahim Dehghani told state television the ship-launched weapon can target submarines at any depth and is powerful enough to "break a heavy warship" in two. He did not announce the name of the new torpedo or give details on its speed or range. READ MORE

The torpedo was tested in the Straits of Hormuz, the narrow entrance of the Gulf and a vital corridor for oil supplies.

The Revolutionary Guards, the elite branch of Iran's military, have been holding their maneuvers - codenamed the "Great Prophet" - since Friday, touting what they call domestically built technological advances in their armed forces.

A day earlier, Iran announced it had tested a different new torpedo -the high-speed "Hoot," which means "whale." Iran said the Hoot, moving at up to 360 kilometers an hour, was too fast for any enemy ship to elude. Friday, it tested the Fajr-3, a missile than it said can avoid radars and hit several targets simultaneously using multiple warheads.

It has not been possible to verify Iran's claims for the new armaments. But the country has made clear it aims to send a message of strength to the U.S. amid heightened tensions over Iran's nuclear program.

Many in Iran worry over the possibility of U.S. military action in the escalating dispute over Iran's nuclear ambition, an option Washington has refused to rule out.

Ali Ansari, an Iran specialist at the U.K.'s Royal Institute for International Affairs, cautioned that there is likely "a little bit of bluster" in Iran's claims for its new weapons.

"They're trying to impress," he told The Associated Press. They aim to "prove to the West that they can hit Israel and close the Straits of Hormuz. They're saying if you hit us, then we can hit back."

Iran's leaders also want to reassure Iranians the country can defend itself. "There's a lot of worry (among the public) over what direction the country is taking, and they want to show that Iran can hold its own against the U.S."

The U.S. is pushing for U.N. sanctions against Iran, accusing it of seeking to develop nuclear weapons.

Tehran denies the claim, saying its program aims to generate electricity, and it has so far rejected a demand by the U.N. Security Council that it give up uranium enrichment, a key part of the nuclear process that can produce either fuel for a reactor or material for a warhead.

More than 17,000 Revolutionary Guards forces, along with some 1,500 warships, boats and aircraft are taking part in the week-long maneuvers in a 100,000 square mile area of the Gulf.