WASHINGTON - Iran has warned the United States not to resort to military action against it, saying US bases in the region were vulnerable to the Islamic Republic's missiles, state media reported on Saturday.
The comments by a senior Iranian military commander were an apparent response to US officials who have said Washington was ready to use military force to stop Iran's march to nuclear weapons capability.
World powers held talks with Iran in Baghdad on May 23-24 in an attempt to find a diplomatic solution to their concerns over its nuclear program. Another round was set for June 18-19 in Moscow.
"The politicians and the military men of the United States are well aware of the fact that all of their bases (in the region) are within the range of Iran's missiles and in any case ... are highly vulnerable," Press TV reported Brigadier-General Yahya Rahim Safavi as saying.
Safavi is a military adviser to Iran's clerical Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and was until 2007 the commander in chief of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, the force that protects Iran's Islamic system of governance.
He played down any possibility of military action against his country as "faint" because of the current economic condition of the United States.
Analysts say Iranian military officials use such fiery rhetoric as a way of keeping the West on edge over the possible disruption to global oil supplies in the event of US or Israeli military action.
Tehran has previously threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz - a vital crude shipping lane - if it is attacked, which experts say would result in a spike in the price of oil and could hit the US economy as it seeks to recover from the financial crisis.
Safavi also warned that Iranian missiles could reach all parts of Israel.
One government official in Jerusalem said the "belligerent words" of Iran's leadership have already unfortunately been accompanied by "belligerent actions."
"The Iranians concretely support the brutal regime in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, and nihilistic forces throughout the region. This dangerous regime can simply not be allowed to achieve nuclear weapons, that would change the world as we now it," the official said.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton indicated on Friday that Iran would need to prove its intentions to take steps to address international concerns over its nuclear program by the end of this month.
"We are looking for concrete actions and we will know by the next meeting in Moscow in just a few weeks whether Iran is prepared to take such actions," Clinton told reporters while on a trip to Norway.
She continued, "We will judge them by their actions and we will determine whether those actions are sufficient to meet their obligations."
The third round of negotiations over Iran's nuclear program is scheduled to begin on June 17 in Moscow, following inconclusive talks world powers held with the Islamic Republic in April and May in two Middle East capitals.
Israel has been concerned that Iran is using the talks to drag out the timeline for their uranium enrichment activity and wants to see a firm end game imposed.
The US has in the past said it, too, doesn't want to see talks for the sake of talks that only give Iran more opportunity for its enrichment program, but has seen more time at play than Israel and has agreed to three rounds of talks spaced out over several weeks.
While the US has said the window for talks is not unlimited, Clinton's words Friday went the furthest in giving a timeframe for American expectations about Iranian performance.
"Our negotiations with Iran have never been about intentions or sincerity, but actions and results," she said.Reuters contributed to this report.