Millennium Post

Iran says will hitback if attacked, Israel confident world will ‘red line’ it soon

Iran says will hitback if attacked, Israel confident world will ‘red line’ it soon
The head of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards on Sunday warned of retaliation against the Gulf’s strategic Strait of Hormuz, US bases in the Middle East and Israel if his country was to be attacked.

General Mohammad Ali Jafari, speaking in a very rare news conference in Tehran, also said that he believed Iran would abandon the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty should it be targetted for military action.

The warnings underlined the high tensions surrounding Iran and its disputed nuclear programme, which Israel has threatened it could seek to disrupt with air strikes, with or without US help.

Jafari said the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow channel at the entrance of the Gulf through which a third of the world’s traded oil passes, would be a legitimate target for Iran should it be attacked.

‘This is a declared policy by Iran that if war occurs in the region and the Islamic republic is involved, it is natural that the Strait of Hormuz as well as the energy [market] will face difficulties,’ he said.

Jafari suggested that US military bases – such as those in Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia – would also be fair game for retaliation by Iranian missiles or proxy forces.

‘The US has many vulnerabilities around Iran, and its bases are within the range of the Guards’ missiles. We have other capabilities as well, particularly when it comes to the support of Muslims for the Islamic republic,’ he said.

He added that Tehran believed Israel was unsuccessfully trying to push the United States to take part in military action against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

‘I do not think the attack would be carried out without US permission,’ he said.

However if Israeli jets or missiles did strike Iran, ‘nothing of Israel will be left, considering its size,’ he warned.

‘I do not think any part of Israel will be untouched given our missile capabilities. Thus, our response [warning of annihilatory retaliation] is in itself a deterrent.’

Jafari said that his personal opinion was that, in case of attack, Iran would leave the NPT which is meant to prevent states developing nuclear weapons while permitting atomic energy generation.

‘In case of an attack, Iran’s obligations will change. My assessment is that Iran may leave the NPT – but it would not mean a dash towards a nuclear bomb because we have a religious edict from the supreme leader against atomic weapons,’ he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, said on Sunday that he is confident the world will come round to see ‘the wisdom’ of his insistence on laying down ‘red lines’ for Iran over its nuclear drive.

Speaking to the English-language newspaper, Jerusalem Post, Netanyahu said he would not stop pushing for the international community to lay down red lines for Iran, which if crossed, would spark a harsh response – a veiled reference to a military strike.

‘I started speaking about the Iranian threat 16 years ago. If I was not a lone voice then, I was one of the few, and then others joined. And then I started speaking about the need for economic sanctions against Iran. I wasn’t the only voice, but I was one of the few,’ he said, referring to issues which have since been broadly adopted by the West.

‘Now I speak about red lines for Iran. So far I am one of the few; I hope others will join. It takes time to persuade people of the wisdom of this policy,’ he told the right-leaning daily.

Over the past fortnight, Netanyahu has repeatedly called for the world to set out ‘clear red lines’ in what was understood as a sharp message to the White House, prompting a rather public spat with Washington, which rejected his call.

‘We are absolutely firm about the president’s commitment [to stop Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon] here, but it is not useful to be parsing it, to be setting deadlines one way or the other, red lines,’ State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said last week.

Israel has said a nuclear-armed Iran would pose an existential threat to the Jewish state and has wielded the threat of military action, but Washington backs a regime of increasingly tough sanctions and diplomatic arm twisting, saying it is not the time for a strike.

‘I believe there has to be clear limits drawn to Iran’s advance toward nuclear weapons, and that is not something I intend to be quiet about,’ he said.

‘There is a difference between a deadline that deals with time, and a red line that deals with process, with the actual advance in the nuclear programme. I think the question is when the crucial stage is passed beyond which you will be hard pressed to stop Iran from assembling a nuclear bomb,’ he explained.

Asked what he meant by a red line, Netanyahu said it was not the time to be sharing such details publicly.

‘A red line is something that Iran knows it cannot cross or it will suffer the consequences. Believe me, when they see it, they will stop. Right now the important thing is to establish the need for this in principle. Working it out in detail is something we don’t necessarily share right now with the public.’

Israel and much of the West believes Tehran is using its civilian nuclear programme as a cover for building a weapons capability, a charge the Iranians have repeatedly denied.


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