Iranian officials have said that they would destroy Israel and a number of US military bases in the Middle East if they were attacked over their controversial nuclear programme, following a week of missile tests.
Iran would destroy Israel and 32 U.S. military bases in the Middle East if the Islamic Republic was attacked over its disputed nuclear programme, a senior Iranian official was quoted as saying on Saturday.
The Islamic Republic and Israel have been embroiled in an
escalating war of words in recent weeks, increasing speculation
of military confrontation and helping to send global oil prices
to record highs.
Iranian missile tests this week further stoked tension and
rattled financial markets.
"The U.S. knows full well that with the smallest move
against Iran, Israel and 32 U.S. military bases in the region
would not be out of the reach of our missiles and would be
destroyed," the semi-official Fars News Agency quoted Mojtaba
Zolnour as saying in a speech.
Zolnour is the deputy of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei's representative in Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards.
Israel staged an air force exercise last month that sparked
speculation about a possible assault on Iranian nuclear sites.
Israel, long assumed to have its own atomic arsenal, has
sworn to prevent Iran from emerging as a nuclear-armed power.
Washington has said it wants diplomacy to end the row but
has not ruled out military action should that fail.
Iran, the world's fourth largest oil exporter, has vowed to
strike back at Israel, U.S. interests and shipping in the region
if it is attacked, threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz,
conduit for about 40 percent of globally traded oil.
On Wednesday, Iran said it tested nine long- and
medium-range missiles, including one which it says could reach
Israel and U.S. bases.
"MADNESS AND STUPIDITY"
Some U.S. facilities across the Gulf are little more than
200 km (124 miles) from Iran's coast. The United States has air
and naval bases in nearby Arab states, including Qatar and
"Today the enemies know that they lack the power to confront
Iran's missile attacks," ISNA news agency quoted Zolnour as
In Jerusalem, Arye Mekel, Israel's Foreign Ministry
spokesman, declined to comment on Zolnour's remarks.
Tehran says its nuclear projects are aimed only at
generating electricity. Western nations and Israel fear the
Islamic Republic is seeking to build bombs.
Analysts say any U.S. or Israeli attack on Iran would be
limited to air strikes, rather than a full-scale offensive with
U.S. ground forces, which are tied down in Iraq and Afghanistan.
They say Iran could also respond with unconventional
tactics, such as deploying small craft to hit ships, or using
allies in the area to strike at U.S. or Israeli interests.
Earlier on Saturday, Iran's government spokesman,
Gholamhossein Elham, warned the United States and Israel it
would be "madness and stupidity" to attack Iran.
The United States and five other major powers have offered
Iran economic and other benefits if it halts its most sensitive
atomic activities, something Tehran says it will not do.
Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili is expected to
meet European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana in Geneva
on July 19 for talks on the long-running dispute.
Elham said Iran was ready for talks in "fair conditions" but
would not accept giving up what it sees as its nuclear rights.
The United Nations and Western countries have stepped up
sanctions on the Islamic Republic over its nuclear plans, which
analysts say is deterring foreign investors.
Tehran says its windfall oil earnings will enable it to
carry out projects on its own and also that it will find other
firms particularly from energy-hungry Asia to invest.
Oil Minister Gholamhossein Nozari said Tehran would press
ahead with "renewed strength" in developing a major gas field in
the Gulf, days after French firm Total said it would not invest
in the South Pars Phase 11 project for now over political
"Upon hearing the news, we began work in this phase with
renewed strength and we will continue that with strength," he
Date created : 2008-07-12