In response to growing concerns of a U.S. military strike, Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) leader Major General Hossein Salami said Iran has only shown a small part of its military potential and has hidden its power to strike far outside of Iran.
In comments reported Saturday by the Iranian Students’ News Agency, Salami warned that, if attacked, Iran could call upon some unspecified hidden forces to carry out attacks and spread the fighting beyond the borders of Iran. Salami made the comments during an exhibition at the Holy Defense Museum in Tehran, where the museum is displaying drones Iran has captured or shot down.
“Everybody knows, and our enemies know, that we have increased the power to produce unknown hazards,” Salami said, in rough translation. “Our capacities are hidden and we have revealed only a small part of our power and have used a smaller part of it.”
Salami’s comments come at the start of Iran’s Sacred Defense Week, commemorating the Iran-Iraq war from 1980 to 1988, which Iran calls the “Sacred Defense.”
“Everyone wants his land to be the main battlefield. We will never allow war to enter our land,” Salami said.
Salami warned of Iranian presence throughout the Eastern Mediterranean and in areas north of the Red Sea, but it was not clear if his comments alluded to those areas specifically or others entirely.
“We have the power to act, and we will assume responsibility for what we do,” Salami said, suggesting Iran will respond to any country that attacks and alluding to Iran’s denial of responsibility in other attacks, such as a strike on Saudi Arabian oil facilities last week.
Salami also said Iran’s military has always made advances have in spite of threats by its enemies has and said Iran has only grown its military capacity since other nations imposed a “boycott” of economic sanctions against them.
The showcase of downed drones is meant to demonstrate Iran’s advanced drone capabilities and “give the enemies a lesson,” according to Radio Farda.
IRGC’s Aerospace Commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh said, in terms of drone technology, Iran has become one of the top five leaders.
The recent comments by Iran’s military leaders came out ahead of the United Nations General Assembly, where it is uncertain if Iranian diplomats will appear.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested Iran has been pushing for a fight since its alleged attacks on Saudi oil sites.
“We’re looking for a diplomatic resolution to this, unlike the Iranians … apparently the Iranians are bloodthirsty and looking for war.” Pompeo said.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said Iran also does not want conflict, but reiterated prior warnings that a U.S. attack would result in “all-out war.”
Thus far, the U.S. has not struck militarily, but has authorized troop increases in Saudi Arabia to deter future attacks, as well as additional sanctions against Iran.
Zarif said the troop movement amounted to “posturing” but has criticized the sanctions as a form of “economic terrorism.”