Iran will target American aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf should a war between the two countries ever break out, the naval chief of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard warned Tuesday as the country completes work on a large-scale mock-up of a U.S. carrier.

The remarks by Adm. Ali Fadavi, who heads the hard-line Guard’s naval forces, were a marked contrast to moderate President Hassan Rouhani’s recent outreach policies toward the West — a reminder of the competing viewpoints that exist at the highest levels within the Islamic Republic.

Iran is building a simple replica of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in a shipyard in the southern port of Bandar Abbas in order to be used in future military exercises, an Iranian newspaper confirmed last month. […]