We could wipe out Israel, says Iranian military chief after threats against Islamic republic over controversial nuclear programme
- General Mohammad Ali Jafari, also warned that if attacked, Iran would close the strategic Strait of Hormuz and hit US bases in the Middle East
By Jonny Paul
PUBLISHED: 00:39, 17 September 2012 |
Iran’s top military commander yesterday said ‘nothing will remain’ of Israel if it took military action against the Islamic republic’s controversial nuclear programme.
General Mohammad Ali Jafari, head of the Revolutionary Guard, also warned that if attacked, Iran would close the strategic Strait of Hormuz and hit US bases in the Middle East.
Such warnings, and references to Israel’s destruction, have frequently been made by Iranian officials however the General gave an unusually detailed, strongly worded and comprehensive description on how Tehran would retaliate against a strike on its nuclear facilities.
Warning: General Mohammad Ali Jafari, right, and Benjamin Netanyahu, left, who said Iran is dangerously close to acquiring an atomic weapon.
He said: ‘Our response to Israel is clear: I think nothing will remain of Israel should it attack Iran. Given Israel’s small land area and its vulnerability to a massive volume of Iran’s missiles, I don’t think any spot in Israel will remain safe.’
He said Iran’s response to any attack will begin near the Israeli border. Iran has close ties with militant forces in Gaza and Lebanon, both of whom have stockpiled rocket arsenals that could be used for strikes against the Jewish state.
Jafari said he did not believe however that Israel would attack on its own. Should the U.S. launch a strike, he claimed that Iran could respond with missile bombardments directed at U.S. bases in the Gulf.
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He added: ‘The US military bases sprawled around Iran are considered a big vulnerability.
‘Even the missile shields that they have set up, based on information we have, could only work for a few missiles but when exposed to a massive volume of missiles, the shields will lose their efficiency and will not work.’
The U.S. and Israel have left open the possibility of such a strike if Iran does not back down from what they say are a push to develop nuclear weapons.
In recent days, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said that Iran is dangerously close to acquiring an atomic weapon. On Sunday, the Israeli premier renewed his call for the U.S. to set ‘red lines’ on Iran’s nuclear program.
Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
America’s ambassador to the United Nations said yesterday that there is ‘no daylight’ between the U.S. and Israel when it comes to stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. But Susan Rice also says U.S.-Israeli intelligence indicates that the two nations have ‘considerable time’ before that happens.
Rice says President Barack Obama has been clear that it stands with Israel and ‘will do what it takes’ to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. But she added ‘we are not at that stage yet.’
Jafari also said that Iran warned that oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz will be in danger if a war breaks out between Iran and the U.S.
Iran has previously threatened to close the waterway between the Gulf of Oman and Persian Gulf, which is the route for a fifth of the world’s oil.
He said: ‘If a war breaks out where one side is Iran and the other side is the West and U.S., it’s natural that a problem should occur in the Strait of Hormuz. Export of energy will be harmed. It’s natural that this will happen.’
Jafari’s comments come as U.S. and naval forces from the West and Arab allies, from more than 27 countries and four different continents, gather in the Straits for the largest ever military exercise aimed at practicing how to find and destroy sea mines in the waters of the Middle East.