A top Iranian military commander said that President Barack Obama will "see the return of the U.S. soldiers’ corpses" should he decide to launch a military strike on Tehran’s disputed nuclear sites, according to regional media reports.
The commander’s threats to kill American servicemen comes just a day after the White House announced that Obama had written a friendly letter to Iranian President Hassan Rowhani asking that the two countries sit down for talks.
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"If the Americans, for any reason, embark on a foolish act against the Islamic Republic of Iran, certainly, what they will witness won't be the return of the U.S. warships but the return of the American bodies to their country," Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps naval commander Ali Fadavi said Wednesday according to state-run Fars News Agency.
His threats were accompanied by the unveiling of purported new missile capabilities.
Should the United States decide to attack Iran it will "merely see the return of the U.S. soldiers' corpses and not their warships," Fars reported.
Fadavi reiterated Iran’s threats to "seal the strategic Strait of Hormuz [shipping lane] in case the U.S. launches any attack on Iran's nuclear installations," according to Fars.
A conflict in the Strait of Hormuz could disrupt international oil shipments and destabilize the globe’s supply of crude oil, most of which is carried through the strait.
American leaders have placed economic sanctions on Iran only because "they are sure about their weakness and failure" on the military front, Fadavi said.
The military commander’s threats came less than a day after the White House announced that Obama and Rowhani had exchanged conciliatory letters with one another.
"In his letter the president indicated that the U.S. is ready to resolve the nuclear issue in a way that allows Iran to demonstrate that its nuclear program is for exclusively peaceful purposes," White House spokesman Jay Carney said to reporters.
"The letter also conveyed the need to act with a sense of urgency to address this issue because, as we have long said, the window of opportunity for resolving this diplomatically is open, but it will not remain open indefinitely," Carney said according to Reuters.
News of the exchange also came after Obama said that military action against Iran is still on the table, a statement that was met with skepticism in Tehran.
Iranian military leaders such as Fadavi have publicly discussed in recent days the installation of advanced weaponry meant to combat a potential U.S. strike.
Fadavi said on Wednesday that Iran’s navy would "increase the speed of its missile-launching" and unveil "fully armed" warships.
"The IRGC's naval power has been defined based on the 5 pivots of high-speed vessels, missiles, air-and-sea [capabilities], drones and Jihadi commandoes," Fadavi said.
Former Pentagon adviser Michael Rubin said that Iran has become emboldened since the late 1980s, when former President Ronald Reagan engaged the country’s navy.
"What a difference 25 years can make," Rubin said. "When the Iranians harassed our ships in 1988, President Reagan sank the Iranian navy."
"With all due respect to [former Sen. and vice presidential candidate] Lloyd Bentsen, the subtext of Admiral Fadavi's remarks is: ‘Mr. Obama, I knew President Reagan,’" Rubin said. "President Reagan taught us we had to respect the United States. Mr. Obama, you're no President Reagan."
A fleet of Iranian warships docked in Sudan on Wednesday after a month of sailing. The warships had escorted Iranian oil tankers and other cargo ships into the port, according to Fars.
The trip was aimed at boosting Iranian relations with Sudan and other nearby countries.
The Iranian fleet was reported to include a "Khark helicopter carrier and Sabalan destroyer," according to Fars. "The flotilla of warships intercepted over 43 military units and escorted more than 14 cargo ships and oil tankers" along the way, according to the report.