In a Feb. 2, 2019 interview with Iran’s Channel 2 TV, Hossein Salami, deputy commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), explained the Iranian regime’s “defense and deterrence strategy” in light of the threats against it. He said: “The two pillars of our deterrence are our influence in the region and our missile capability.”
Contradicting Iranian regime spokesmen’s claim that Iran is forced to maintain missile capability and to expand in the region in order to defend itself against Western aggression, Salami revealed that Iran’s expansion in the region (which stretches as far as 2,000 kilometers from its border) is directed by the regime because “its essence is a matter of faith.” That is, active geographic expansion is “a zero-sum game” played by the regime against its enemies, instead of being for purposes of defense.
He explained that “the morale and the spirit of jihad against the controlling regime [i.e. the U.S.] and against the infidels are the internal faith of the region, [and therefore] no one can destroy the expansion of [Iran’s] influence.”
He added: “We had two options: to remain within our geographic borders, meaning achieving the American aims, or to advance and move forward [towards countries far away from Iran].”
Iranian spokesmen emphasize the regime’s refusal to negotiate over its missile program, stating that Iran’s missiles are its defense against its enemies. Nevertheless, its missiles have a range of up to 2,000 km, indicating that the missile program is offensive, not defensive. Further underlining that Iran’s missile program is offensive was Salami’s warning in this interview that if Europe pressures Iran on this matter too much, the regime will take a “strategic leap” and will increase its missiles’ range.
“Our defensive strategy can change subject to circumstances, and also subject to changes in the behavior of the players [in the international arena]. … The structure, organization, development, quantity and quality of our missile capability are completely open-ended. We have set no limits for the development of this capability.”
Salami said that the strategy for eradicating the “Zionist regime” has been created, hinting at Iran’s regional expansion. Addressing Israel, he warned that its response to this strategy could spark a war in which its destruction is assured, that the Israelis would be destroyed before help from the United States could arrive, and that there would be no burial site for them in Palestine.