Iran has issued a stark warning to the West vowing that response to any hostile action will be ‘regretful but destructive’.
As tensions over its disputed nuclear programme continue to rise General Masoud Jazayeri, spokesman for Iran’s Joint Armed Forces Staff, said: ‘We will rigorously confront any threat or hostile behaviour, and our response will be definitely regretful and destructive.
‘We hope this (kind of behaviour) would not take place, but if it happens then the history will remember whether the Americans or the Iranians were bluffing.’
The General’s words came as Iran claimed it had produced ‘intelligent’ laser-guided artillery shells which can spot and hit moving targets with very high degrees of precision.
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Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi hailed what he described as ‘intelligent munitions’ as a new chapter in the country’s weapons and military equipment.
‘Besides America and Russia, there are only three other countries which have this technology,’ he said.
Tension between Iran and the West have been escalating over the past few weeks over whether Iran is harbouring nuclear weapons.
Today, Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi offered to extend the current visit of U.N. nuclear weapons inspectors and said he was optimistic their findings would help ease tensions.
The three day visit by the Atomic Energy Agency team began on Sunday and followed reports in November that suggested some of the Islamic Republic’s alleged experiments were focused on developing nuclear weapons.
Salehi said he was ‘optimistic about the results of the visit’ without offering more details and he also told Turkish state television that the U.N. mission could be ‘extended if necessary’.
The findings could greatly influence Western efforts to expand economic pressures on Iran over its uranium enrichment – which Washington and allies fear could eventually produce weapons-grade material.
Iran has declined to abandon its enrichment labs, but claims it seeks to fuel reactors only for energy and medical research.
The inspectors are likely to visit an underground enrichment site near Qom, 80 miles south of Tehran, which is carved into a mountain as protection from possible airstrikes.
Earlier this month, Iran said it had begun enrichment work at the site, which is far smaller than the country’s main uranium labs but is reported to have more advanced equipment.
The IAEA team also wants to talk to key Iranian scientists suspected of working on a weapons program. The team also plans to inspect documents related to nuclear work and secure commitments from Iranian authorities to allow future visits.
Oil prices have been driven higher in recent weeks by Iran’s warnings that it could block the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Gulf, the route for about one-fifth of the world’s oil.
Last week, the American aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, joined by French and British warships, entered the Gulf in a show of strength against any attempts to disrupt oil tanker traffic.