Iranian missiles can hit US warships in Gulf: Official

TEHRAN (Agencies): Iranian missiles, even short-range ones, can “easily” strike U.S. warships deployed in the Persian Gulf, Mohamed Saleh Jokar, deputy head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, said Friday.

“Even our short-range missiles can easily reach (U.S.) warships in the Persian Gulf,” Mohammad Saleh Jokar, the Guard’s deputy for parliamentary affairs, was quoted by Fars as saying.

“America cannot afford the costs of a new war, and the country is in a bad situation in terms of manpower and social conditions,” he added.

Separately, a senior Iranian military official accused U.S. President Donald Trump of dishonesty, the semi-official news agency Mehr reported on Friday.

Trump has said publicly he wants to pursue a diplomatic route after withdrawing from the 2015 deal and moving to cut off all Iranian oil exports this month.

“The actions of American leaders in exerting pressure and launching sanctions … while speaking of talks, is like holding a gun at someone and asking for friendship and negotiations,” said Rasoul Sanai-Rad, a political deputy of the armed forces command, Mehr reported.

“The behavior of American leaders is a political game which consists of threats and pressure while showing a willingness to negotiate in order to present a peaceful image of themselves and fool public opinion,” Sanai-Rad added.

Guards deputy Jokar was also quoted by Fars as making remarks apparently directed against any calls for talks by allies of pragmatic President Hassan Rouhani.

“The Western-leaning tendency in the country raises a war versus talks dilemma … and is trying to impose new nuclear deals on the country,” he said.

Jokar made the remarks amid steadily mounting tension between Tehran and Washington.

Earlier this week, the U.S. deployed an aircraft carrier strike group to the Gulf, citing intelligence of a possible Iranian attack on U.S. interests in the region.

On Thursday, the New York Times cited intelligence sources as saying that Iran had recently deployed military vessels — armed with missile-launchers — in the Gulf, raising fears of possible conflict.

On Monday, U.S. warplanes conducted maneuvers over the Gulf in what was widely seen as a message directed at Iran.

Iran FM confers with Chinese counterpart: Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif conferred Friday with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi on various regional and international issues.

During the meeting, the Iranian foreign minister highlighted the recent developments with regards to Iran’s legitimate rights within the JCPOA, mutual relations as well as examining various avenues to broaden political and economic cooperation between the two countries along with other regional developments.

Prior to his visit to China, Zarif also toured Japan, Turkmenistan and India and conferred with the their top officials on mutual, regional and global developments.

Zarif and his entourage are on a regional tour to exchange views with top officials on regional and global developments and the JCPOA in particular.

Zarif arrived in Beijing Friday morning and is to confer with the country’s top officials.