The commander of Iran’s ballistic missile program has responded to new U.S. sanctions against the program by stating that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) response will be “offensive.”
Brigadier Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the IRGC’s missile force, made his comments in the Iranian capital of Tehran on Saturday, reports Iran’s Fars News Agency. Hajizadeh’s comments come after the Obama administration put new sanctions on Iran’s missile program into effect on Jan. 17.
The new sanctions were a response to two ballistic missile tests Iran conducted in October and December. The tests took place just months after the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal, in July. The administration applied the sanctions one day after a key step in the deal known as ‘implementation day,’ which began a process to remove several international sanctions on Iran put in place in response to its nuclear ambitions.
“They [the U.S.] keep raising the issue of sanctions against Iran over its missile program and they expect us to retreat,” warned Hajizadeh, “Far from it, the IRGC response to the US demands will be offensive. As explicitly stated before, the Islamic Republic of Iran will respond to the [U.S.] propaganda and annoying move by further pursuing its completely legal missile program. Iran will strengthen national defense and security capabilities.”
Iran’s missile program is controlled by the IRGC, Iran’s vanguard military wing, which takes orders directly from Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khameini. Iran’s president Rouhani has essentially no control over the organization, which has been actively undermining Rouhani since his election.
The group is separate from Iran’s traditional military, and is considered the “ideological custodian charged with defending the Islamic Republic against internal and external threats,” according to a backgrounder by the Council on Foreign Relations. The IRGC has its own air force, navy and army and is also in control of the paramilitary Quds force, which engages in covert operations abroad. It is also responsible for coordinating with Iran’s proxy groups abroad, such as Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah.
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