Iran is not an aggressor nation but will use its offensive capabilities effectively against the enemy if attacked, Iranian Army Commander Maj. Gen. Abdolrahim Mousavi has said.
"We have never been the initiator of any war and will never be; however, we are not relying solely on defence; in the early stage of the enemy's attack, we will defend, but our offensive power and our ability to strike the enemy is devastating and will make enemies regret [starting a war]," Mousavi said, speaking to officers at a military unit in Tabriz, northwestern Iran on Sunday, Mehr News has reported.
According to the commander, Iran's military proved its "level of adherence to the Revolution's ideals" during the Iran-Iraq War of 1980-1988, and its capabilities have only grown since that time. "Stronger than before, we will not budge an inch in defending our ideals and the country," he said.
Maj. Gen. Mousavi's remarks follow a statement by Revolutionary Guard Corps ground forces commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad Pakpour last week that Iran's military had created a new "deep-attack doctrine" for operations against enemies in the event of war.
Tensions between Iran and Washington escalated sharply after the Iranian shoot-down of a US drone in mid-June, with the US moving a carrier strike group into the Middle East and beefing up its military footprint in the region a month earlier amid an alleged 'imminent' Iranian threat to US interests.
Iran has not invaded another country since at least 1795, when Persian troops captured and sacked Tbilisi, Georgia before being beaten back and ceding most of its Caucasus territories to Russia after the Russo-Persian War of 1804. From 1980 to 1988, Iran waged a war with neighbouring Iraq after Saddam Hussein launched an invasion of the country in a bid to seize the oil-rich Khuzestan Province in the chaos following the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
As many as 600,000 Iranians and 500,000 Iraqis were killed in the war, which ended in a a ceasefire brokered by the United Nations. During the Iran-Iraq War, Iran did not retaliate to large-scale Iraqi chemical attacks despite having the legal right to do so under existing treaties, and eliminated its chemical arsenal by the time it ratified the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1997.