TEHRAN, Iran — If the United States were to attack Iran, the country would respond by striking U.S. interests all over the world, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Thursday.
The White House responded by saying the United States has no intention of going to war with Iran.
“Khamenei from time to time makes these unprovoked statements and we would certainly hope they are not directed at the United States because President Bush has made it clear we have no intention of going to war with Iran,” said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the White House National Security Council.
In addition to Khamenei’s remarks, an Iranian naval commander said the Revolutionary Guards had test fired missiles that could sink “big warships” in the Gulf, the waterway where a second U.S. aircraft carrier is now heading.
“We do not see that as a direct assault on our ships,” said White House spokesman Tony Snow when asked about the missile tests.
Johndroe added that “they run various exercises from time to time in the Persian Gulf. We monitor those exercises.”
President Bush has vowed to find a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, which Tehran denies is aimed at developing a nuclear weapon.
But he has said if Iranian agents attempt to kill American forces or Iraqi citizens inside Iraq, “we will stop them.”
Khamenei on Thursday said that “the enemy knows well that any invasion would be followed by a comprehensive reaction to the invaders and their interests all over the world.”
Iranian leaders often speak of a crushing response to any attack. While the remarks are seen as an attempt to drum up national support, Iran’s position on Iraq and its nuclear program have provoked more than usual international pressure in recent months.
“Some people say that the U.S. president is not prone to calculating the consequences of his actions,” Khamenei said in remarks broadcast on state television, “but it is possible to bring this kind of person to wisdom.
“U.S. policymakers and analysts know that the Iranian nation would not let an invasion go without a response,” Khamenei added.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.