A top Iranian defense official’s claim that a U.S. military base in the Indian Ocean is now within missile range served both as a threat to American interests and a revelation that, if true, Tehran has doubled its striking distance.
“In the event of an irrational attack by the U.S., America’s military bases will not be safe from our missiles, whether in Bahrain or at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean,” the senior official, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) adviser Mojtaba Zonnour, was quoted as saying to Iran’s “Defa Moghadas,” or Holy Defense.
The U.S. Navy operates a naval ship and submarine support base, military air base, space-tracking facility at Diego Garcia, an atoll some 1,000 nautical miles off the southern tip of India. If the regime in Tehran really can hit Diego Garcia with its ballistic missiles, it means they have a range of at least 3,100 miles — more than double current estimates. And the boast came even as Iranian officials were in Switzerland, meeting with their Western counterparts to finalize a nuclear deal.
Zonnour spoke in response to boilerplate U.S. assertions that “all options are on the table,” regarding efforts to force Iran to comply with international efforts to curb its nuclear program. But it was the first time Iran has mentioned Diego Garcia, particularly in the context of a potential missile strike. The base was used to launch sorties into both Iraq and Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks.
“Diego Garcia is a very critical base in the Indian Ocean,” said Claire Lopez, vice president for research and analysis at the Center for Security Policy.
Although Iranian military leaders have often made improbable boasts about their ability to strike at the U.S., Lopez said Zonnour’s claim is not so outlandish.
SOURCE: Lisa Daftari