Iranian cleric claims US fleet ‘can be destroyed with one missile’

A high-ranking cleric in the Iranian government claimed Friday that a U.S. carrier strike group headed to the Persian Gulf could be destroyed by a single missile fired by Iran’s military, the latest threat from Tehran amid heightened tensions with the U.S.

Ayatollah Tabatabai-Nejad, who serves in Iran’s Assembly of Experts, said that “their billion [-dollar] fleet can be destroyed with one missile,” Reuters reported, citing an Iranian news agency.

{mosads}“If they attempt any move, they will… [face] dozens of missiles because at that time [President Hassan Rouhani’s] officials won’t be in charge to act cautiously, but instead things will be in the hands of our beloved leader [Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei],” Tabatabai-Nejad added, according to the news service.{mosads}

The Trump administration announced Sunday that it would deploy the carrier strike group led by the USS Abraham Lincoln to the region along with a bomber task force to address “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings.”

Tabatabai-Nejad, a hard-line conservative cleric, is seen as close to Khamenei in the country, according to Reuters, and his threats could indicate growing pressure from Iran’s conservative wing to press tensions with the U.S.

A top official with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard addressed the tensions as well, stating that “no talks will be held with the Americans, and the Americans will not dare take military action against us,” Reuters reported.

Iran’s government sees the U.S. as “unreliable” following the Trump administration’s decision last year to abandon the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, the Revolutionary Guard official reportedly added.

White House national security adviser John Bolton said this week that the U.S. will not take military action in the region unless Iranian military forces or allied militia groups attempt such an act first.

“The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces,” he said.

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