Iran Threatens 'Fiery Response' after U.S. Nuclear Bomber Flight

Iran's air force is ready to deliver a "crushing and fiery response" to any violations of the country's air space after, a senior commander has said days after U.S. nuclear-capable B-52 bombers skirted the nation's territory to deter any aggression from Tehran.

Brigadier General Qader Rahimzadeh said Saturday that Iranian forces will keep monitoring American activity in the region and will be prepared to retaliate if necessary, Iran's Tasnim News Agency reported.

Iranian commanders regularly threaten such action as part of the tit-for-tat military posturing increasingly common in the Persian Gulf area since President Donald Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal in 2018.

Rahimzadeh, who is the deputy commander of the Khatam al-Anbia air defense base, said: "The country's airspace is among our redlines and, as enemies have experienced in the past too, the smallest violation will be met with the air defense forces' crushing and fiery response."

The remarks came soon after U.S. Central Command said Thursday that two B-52H strategic bombers had flown a non-stop round-trip mission from a base in Louisiana to the Middle East, before returning home.

It was the second such mission in two months, and was designed to deter Iranian retaliation for intensifying American sanctions, the assassination of top nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh last month, or the assassination of top commander Major General Qassem Soleimani in January.

The roughly 36-hour mission took the bombers—a symbol of American military might rarely flown in the Middle East—across the Atlantic Ocean and Europe, over the Arabian Peninsula and down the Persian Gulf, a hotspot for Iranian-U.S. military tensions and a vital strategic waterway.

The aircraft then made a wide loop near Qatar though stayed a safe distance from Iran's coastline, a military official told the Associated Press.

Aircraft from America's regional allies in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar escorted the bombers through their airspace, the official said. A senior defense official told AP that the B-52Hs did not drop any munitions during the flight.

CENTCOM commander General Frank McKenzie released a statement explaining the mission. "The ability to fly strategic bombers halfway across the world in a non-stop mission and to rapidly integrate them with multiple regional partners demonstrates our close working relationships and our shared commitment to regional security and stability," McKenzie said.

"We do not seek conflict," McKenzie said, "but we must remain postured and committed to respond to any contingency or in opposition to any aggression."

B-52 nuclear bomber over NYC July 4
This file photo shows a B-52 bomber over Lower Manhattan during the Fourth of July Military Flyover on July 4, 2020 in New York City. Gotham/Getty Images/Getty