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Iran: We can destroy US bases 'minutes after an attack'

Arash Khamoushi / ISNA via AFP - Getty Images

In this photo obtained from Iran's state-run ISNA news agency, a short-range Fateh missile is launched during the second day of military exercises in the Kavir Desert on Tuesday.

DUBAI -- Iran has threatened to destroy U.S. military bases across the Middle East and target Israel within minutes of being attacked, Iranian media reported on Wednesday, as Revolutionary Guards extended test-firing of ballistic missiles into a third day.

Israel has hinted it may attack Iran if diplomacy fails to secure a halt to its disputed nuclear energy program. The United States also has mooted military action as a last-resort option but has frequently nudged the Israelis to give time for intensified economic sanctions to work against Iran.

"These bases are all in range of our missiles, and the occupied lands (Israel) are also good targets for us," Amir Ali Haji Zadeh, commander of the Revolutionary Guards aerospace division, was quoted by Fars news agency as saying.


Haji Zadeh said 35 U.S. bases were within reach of Iran's ballistic missiles, the most advanced of which commanders have said could hit targets 1,300 miles away.

"We have thought of measures to set up bases and deploy missiles to destroy all these bases in the early minutes after an attack," he added.

It was not clear where Haji Zadeh got his figures on U.S. bases in the region. U.S. military facilities in the Middle East are located in Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Turkey, and it has around 10 bases further afield in Afghanistan and Kyrgyzstan.

NYT: US sends ships, planes to Persian Gulf as tension mounts

Defense analysts are often skeptical about what they describe as exaggerated military assertions by Iran and say the country's military capability would be no match for sophisticated U.S. defense systems.

'Great Prophet 7' tests
Iranian media reported that this week's three-day "Great Prophet 7" tests involved dozens of missiles and domestically built drones that successfully destroyed simulated air bases.

Iran has upped its fiery anti-West rhetoric in response to the launch on Sunday of a total European Union embargo on buying Iranian crude oil - the latest calibrated increase in sanctions aimed at pushing Tehran into curbing nuclear activity.

Sanctions have taken a toll on the Iranian economy. The government is reluctant to admit it. Inflation is high. The number of young unemployed is a growing concern. NBC's Ali Arouzi reports. 

Revolutionary Guards commanders have also threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz, through which more than a third of the world's seaborne oil trade passes out of the Gulf, in response to the increasingly harsh sanctions.

Danger zone then and now: Strait of Hormuz

Major powers have said they would tolerate no obstruction of commercial traffic through the Strait, and the United States maintains a formidable naval presence in the Gulf region.

Iran accused the West of disrupting global energy supplies and creating regional instability and says its forces can dominate the vital waterway to provide security.

"The policy of the Islamic Republic is based on maintaining security in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz for all ships and oil tankers," Iranian English-language state Press TV quoted the chairman of parliament's national security and foreign policy committee, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, as saying.

Israel's defense minister Ehud Barak said his country will do "whatever it takes" to prevent Iran from becoming a military power with a nuclear weapon. NBC's Richard Engel reports.

The United States and its allies accuse Iran of using its nuclear program to covertly develop all the components required to produce nuclear weapons, accusations the Iranian officials have repeatedly denied.

The world's No. 5 oil exporter maintains that it is enriching uranium for nuclear fuel only to generate more energy for a rapidly growing population.

Oil deal axed
Meanwhile, Kenya on Wednesday canceled a deal to import Iranian oil hours after the U.S. warned the country that it risked being penalized if it sees through the deal which would breach U.S. and European union sanctions, a government official said.

Kenya's Energy Permanent Secretary Patrick Nyoike said Kenya had not signed an agreement but had a memorandum of understanding with Iran to import its oil and was complying with international sanctions on Iran.

The U.S. announced in December that it would penalize banks that do oil deals with Iran, giving countries and the oil markets until the end of June to adjust.

A statement from the U.S. State Department said Wednesday that sanctions will be implemented fully, and they include sanctions against financial institutions from any country, without an exception, if they are found to conduct sanctionable transactions, including those with the Central Bank of Iran.

Nyoike had been quoted this week saying that Kenya has signed an agreement to buy millions of barrels of Iranian oil.

He said he was not aware of the U.S. warning to Kenya about oil deals with Iran.

At schools, in shops, and on the streets of big cities and small towns, daily life plays out in Iran.

Nyoike said the cancellation of the memorandum with Iran had nothing to do with accusations that two men believed to be agents of a secretive unit in the Iranian armed forces were planning to bomb American, Israeli, British and Saudi Arabian targets.

Kenyan security forces arrested the Iranians on June 19 and were then led to 33 pounds of RDX, a powerful explosive that could have been used against multiple targets or concentrated in one large bomb. If used together, the explosives could have leveled a medium-sized hotel, officials told AP.

The two suspects — Ahmad Abolfathi Mohammad and Sayed Mansour Mousavi — appeared in a Kenyan court last week, where Mohammad said he had been interrogated by Israeli agents. Israel's embassy said it had no comment.

Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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