NICOSIA, CYPRUS, JUNE 10 -- Iran issued a thinly veiled threat to attack U.S. nuclear reactors if American forces strike Iranian missile batteries in the Persian Gulf.

Tehran radio said last night that Iranian authorities believe that the Americans, "contrary to what they claim, are unable to accept the risk of attacking Iranian missile bases in the Persian Gulf or other forms of confrontation. U.S. centers and nuclear reactors can be more vulnerable than the missile bases of the Islamic Republic of Iran," it said.

The broadcast, monitored in Nicosia, noted: "U.S. interests throughout the world are so scattered and uncontrollable that, should America become embroiled with the Islamic Republic, the vulnerability of the U.S. administration would be high."

{In a speech to physicians in Tehran, Iran's speaker of the parliament, Hojatoleslam Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, suggested that Iran may refrain from deploying antiship missiles at the Strait of Hormuz, at the mouth of the gulf, the West German news agency Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported. Rafsanjani said that, since the missiles are mobile, it would be unnecessary to deploy them at the strait.}

Tehran radio's warning apparently was referring to nuclear reactors in the United States, most of which are used to generate electricity, although a handful of government-run facilities also provide fuel for nuclear bombs. Elsewhere, American-owned reactors are found only on board nuclear-powered U.S. Navy vessels.

Washington says Iran has Chinese-made HY2 Silkworm antiship missiles and has warned that their deployment at the mouth of the gulf would be a serious threat to navigation in the strategic waterway.

The missiles have a range of 50 miles and can carry 900-pound warheads, big enough to sink a tanker or freighter. U.S. officials have said Washington is considering possible preemptive strikes against the mobile Silkworm batteries.