The deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said that Tehran has so far purposely limited the range of its missiles to 2,000 kilometres, but that it would increase the range if Europe turned into a threat.
Earlier this month, French President Emmanuel Macron called for dialogue with Iran about its ballistic missile programme, separate from Tehran’s 2015 nuclear agreement with world powers.
Iran has repeatedly said its missile programme is for defensive purposes only and not negotiable.
“We tell the European countries that if we have confined the range of our missiles to 2,000 kilometres until today and have not increased it any further, it is not because of a lack of technology, because we have no limitations for the range of our missiles in technological terms,” Brigadier General Hossein Salami said in an interview with state TV on Saturday.
“So far we have felt that Europe is not a threat, so we did not increase the range of our missiles. But if Europe wants to turn into a threat, we will increase the range of our missiles,” state-run Fars news cited Salami as saying.
The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards military force, Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, said that the 2,000-kilometre missile range could cover “most of American interest and forces” within the region, so Iran did not need to extend it.
Jafari added on Friday that Iran considered the French president’s efforts to engage with Iran on its missile programme “a result of his young age and naivety”.
“He will soon conclude that such an attempt is fruitless,” the Fars news agency cited Jafari as saying.
The general said that the range of Iran’s missiles was based on the limits set by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader and head of its armed forces.
Saudi Arabia and the United States accused Iran this month of supplying Yemen’s Houthi rebels with a missile that was fired towards the Saudi capital of Riyadh.
Iran has denied supplying the Houthis with missiles and weapons.
“Yemen is in total blockade. How could we have given them any missile?” Salami said, according to the Fars report on Saturday. “If Iran can send a missile to Yemen, it shows the incapability of [the Saudi coalition]. But we have not given them missiles.”
Salami said the Houthis managed to increase the range and precision of their missiles in a “scientific breakthrough”.
In what seemed to be a correction of Jafari’s comments, Salami said on Saturday that Iran’s support for the Houthis was “political and spiritual”.
The US has imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran, saying its missile tests violate a United Nations resolution that calls on Tehran not to undertake activities related to missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
The US says Iran’s missile programme is a breach of international law because the missiles could carry nuclear warheads in the future.
Iran denies it is seeking nuclear weapons and says its nuclear programme is for civilian uses only.