The commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, Major General Hossein Salami, said in a parliament session on Sunday that the United States has started a psychological war in the region, according to a parliamentary spokesman.
"Commander Salami, with attention to the situation in the region, presented an analysis that the Americans have started a psychological war because the comings and goings of their military is a normal matter," said Behrouz Nemati in a summary of Salami's comments, according to parliament's ICANA news site.
The US military has sent forces, including an aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers, to the Middle East to counter what US officials have said are "clear indications" of threats from Iran to its forces there.
The USS Abraham Lincoln is replacing another carrier rotated out of the Gulf last month.
Iran: 'Hit them in the head'
But Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the Guards' aerospace division, said what once might have been a threat for Iran was now seen as an opportunity.
"An aircraft carrier that has at least 40 to 50 planes on it and 6,000 forces gathered within it was a serious threat for us in the past but now ... the threats have switched to opportunities," Hajizadeh said. "If [the Americans] make a move we will hit them in the head."
Read more: What is Iran's Revolutionary Guard?
Iran 'must not surrender'
Salami and Hajizadeh's comments came as top officials from Tehran and Washington insisted that they were not prepared to back down, amid escalating tensions between the two nations.
Earlier this week, Rouhani said Tehran would begin to withdraw from key aspects of the 2015 international nuclear deal unless major powers swiftly grant promised sanctions relief.
Wednesday marked a year since US President Donald Trump announced that the US would be pulling out of the JCPOA nuclear deal.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his country will not surrender to political and economic pressure.
"Surrendering is not compatible with our culture and religion, and people do not accept it, so we must not surrender and we must find solutions," Rouhani told political activists, according to a statement published on his office's website late on Saturday.
Following Rouhani's announcement about withdrawing from the deal, Trump said he would like to hear directly from Iran's leaders.
"What I'd like to see with Iran — I'd like Iran to call me," Trump said.
His response prompted social media users in Iran to respond with the trending motto: "Call me first."
Other nations have expressed concern about Iran withdrawing from the nuclear deal, including Germany.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas made clear that Iran's activities in the region make the nuclear deal even more important.
"We need this agreement because we distrust Iran," he told the Bild Am Sonntag newspaper on Sunday. Opposition politicians in Germany have urged Maas to travel to Iran to salvage the deal, stressing that diplomacy from afar would not do in this case.
Separately on Sunday, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said in a tweet on Sunday that US national security adviser John Bolton had made plans for the US to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal and take a more aggressive stance toward the Islamic Republic even before he took up his current post.
Zarif tweeted a link to a 2017 National Review article written by Bolton with the headline "How to Get Out of the Iran Nuclear Deal."
"A detailed blueprint for #FakeIntelligence, #ForeverWar and even empty offers for talks — only phone numbers were not included," Zarif wrote in the tweet.
law/ng (AP, dpa, Reuters)