Not long after Adm. Mike Mullen's aired on a Sunday talk show, the deputy chief of Iran's Revolutionary Guard was quoted as saying there would be a strong Iranian response should the U.S. take military action against his country.
Mullen, the highest ranking U.S. military officer, often has warned that a strike on Iran would have serious and unpredictable ripple effects around the Middle East. At the same time, Mullen said the risk of Iran's developing a nuclear weapon is unacceptable, although he would not say which risk he thinks is worse.
"I think the military options have been on the table and remain on the table," Mullen said on "Meet the Press" on NBC. "It's one of the options that the president has. Again, I hope we don't get to that, but it's an important option and it's one that's well understood."
The official Iranian news agency IRNA quoted Revolutionary Guard deputy chief Yadollah Javani as saying Sunday that security in the Persian Gulf would be jeopardized "if Americans commit the slightest mistake."
"The Persian Gulf is a strategic region. If the security of this region is endangered, they will suffer losses too and our response will be firm," Javani said.
Iran repeatedly has threatened to target the heart of Tel Aviv, the second-largest city in Israel, should the U.S. or Israel take military action against it.
The U.S. and Iran are at odds over the goals of Iran's nuclear program. Iran contends that it's aimed at peaceful uses of nuclear energy while the U.S. claims Iran is gearing up to create a nuclear weapon.
Associated Press writer Ali Akbar Dareini in Tehran, Iran, contributed to this report.