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Iran: We Will Use Missiles If Attacked

Iran's Revolutionary Guards chief Saturday warned the United States and Britain that Iran would respond with its missiles if attacked, a clear threat to Israel which lies within easy range of such a launch.

"The world knows Iran has a ballistic missile power with a range of 2,000 kilometers," Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi said on state-run television.

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Saturday that military action against Iran over its nuclear ambitions is "genuinely" not on the table, ahead of talks with the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed El-Baradei, in Davos, Switzerland.

Iran's improved version of Shahab-3 missile can strike more than 1,300 miles from their launch site, putting Israel and U.S. forces in the Middle East in easy range.

"We have no intention to invade any country. We will take effective defense measures if attacked," he said. "These missiles are in the possession of the Guards."

The Guards were equipped with the missiles in July 2003.

"We are producing these missiles and don't need foreign technology for that," he said. Iran announced last year that it had fully developed solid fuel technology for missiles, a major breakthrough that increases their accuracy.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards are a separate organization from the regular armed forces. Founded after the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the Guards have their own air, naval and ground components.

Safavi also accused U.S. and British intelligence services of provoking unrest in the oil-rich southwestern Iran and providing bomb materials to Iranian dissidents. He said the U.S. and Britain were behind bombings Jan. 21 that killed at least nine people in the southwestern city of Ahvaz, near the southern border with Iraq where 8,500 British soldiers are based.

"Foreign forces based in Iraq, especially southern Iraq, direct Iranian agents and give them bomb materials," he said.

Safavi said Iran was monitoring dissidents and their alleged links with the U.S. and British forces.

"We are aware of their meetings in Kuwait and Iraq," he said. "We warn them (U.S. and Britain), especially the MI-6 and CIA, that they refrain from interfering in Iran's affairs."

Meanwhile, in Davos, U.S. Senator John McCain, R-Ariz., disagreed with Straw, saying it was important to maintain the "leverage" of the military option.

Straw said Britain did not share that view.

"There is not a military option," he said. "There certainly is not one on the table, let's be clear about that. And no-one is talking about it. I have never had a discussion with any senior American from the very top downwards, except to say the military option is not on the table."

Straw told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "I understand the anxieties about that, of course they are going to be there because of Iraq. But genuinely it is not on the table".

Straw said there would be "intense diplomacy" with an emergency meeting on February 2 and 3 to consider a referral to the U.N. Security Council.