Ali Fadavi, of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ naval forces, has released a statement saying that in the event of war breaking out between Iran and the United States, Iran would target American aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf. The remarks were quoted by the Fars News Agency and stand as an example of the duplicitous tone of the Iranian regime, which has typically remained belligerent in its internal communications and regional activities, while simultaneously engaging in negotiations with the US and European powers over the issue of Iran’s nuclear program. 

Fadavi’s remarks come about a month after the announcement that Iran was building a mock-up replica of a US aircraft carrier, to be used in military exercises. The naval commander claims that some such exercises have already occurred, providing the Revolutionary Guards with insight into how it would attempt to engage US forces at sea and in the air. Fadavi referred to large aircraft carriers as an “easy target,” and suggested that his forces know how to sink one quickly.

 

 An American naval officer currently station in the Persian Gulf has dismissed these claims. However, Fadavi’s remarks elicited no immediate response from the White House or from US diplomatic officials, who may have cause to question Iranian diplomatic sincerity in light of aggressive overtures.

 Press statements are not the only examples of that aggression in recent days. On Monday, two Iranian warships were reported to have docked in Sudan, in what was interpreted as a possible show of strength to Iran’s rivals in Saudi Arabia. At the same time, officials from high levels of Iranian government were meeting or planning to meet with regional trading partners in what may be an attempt to shore up diplomatic alliances and prepare alternative routes of commerce in the event that Western sanctions are reinstated after a breakdown in diplomatic relations.

 

 Meanwhile, China has taken the significant step of announcing that it wishes to have closer military ties with Iran, and that it is prepared to share equipment, personnel, and strategic support. Despite persistent Western optimism as nuclear talks continue this week in New York, it seems that some Asian powers may be anticipating a return to aggressive relations.

 

 It remains to be seen whether these expectations prove true, and if so, whether the diplomatic breakdown is prompted by Western powers or by Iran itself.