Iranian missiles can hit warships operating anywhere in the Gulf and Oman Sea, the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards said on Wednesday, the day U.S. officials said they might label his forces as "terrorists".
"We have surface-to-sea missile systems that can cover the length and breadth of the Persian Gulf and Sea of Oman," Chief Commander Yahya Rahim Safavi, told Iran's international Persian language Jam-e Jam television channel in an interview.
"No boat or vessel can cross the Persian (Arabian) Gulf without being within the range of our coastal missiles," he warned in the interview, which was reproduced by the Fars news agency.
Iran, locked in a standoff with Washington over its nuclear plans, has previously boasted it had missiles that could sink "big warships" in the Gulf, a region where U.S. aircraft carriers and warships operate.
His comments came on the day the United States announced it was planning to blacklist the Revolutionary Guards as a terror group in order to block its assets.
However, the remarks appear to have been made before this news broke.
In a clear reference to the United States, Safavi said that following the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, the Revolutionary Guards "changed our strategy to one based on confronting extra-regional powers."
"The guards are a major offensive and defensive force. We have advanced technology and we have equipped our troops with the most advanced equipment that can defend our national interests," he said.
Safavi said the Guards naval force had 1,000 high speed boats, while its land forces had field artillery capable of "penetrating US and Israeli tanks."
It can also count on some 12 million members of its volunteer Basij militia, he added.
"We are sure of our defense capabilities but of course we think about peace security and calm of the region. The strategy is a defensive strategy," he added.
Formed after the Islamic revolution in 1979, the Revolutionary Guards remain an elite force that after almost three decades is still seen as the protector of the revolution's ideals.