Iran vows to hit Israel's atomic sites if attacked

TEHRAN Sat Jul 25, 2009 7:42pm IST

Iran's Revolutionary Guards commander Mohammad Ali Jafari attends Friday prayer in Tehran September 14, 2007. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl

Iran's Revolutionary Guards commander Mohammad Ali Jafari attends Friday prayer in Tehran September 14, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Morteza Nikoubazl

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TEHRAN (Reuters) - The Revolutionary Guards said on Saturday that Iran would strike Israel's nuclear facilities if the Jewish state attacked it, state television reported.

"If the Zionist Regime (Israel) attacks Iran, we will surely strike its nuclear facilities with our missile capabilities," Mohammad Ali Jafari, Guards commander-in-chief, told Iran's Arabic language al-Alam television.

The Revolutionary Guards are the ideologically driven wing of Iran's military with air, sea and land capabilities, and a separate command structure to regular units.

Iranian leaders often dismiss talk of a possible strike by Israel, saying it is not in a position to threaten Iran, the world's fifth-largest oil exporter. They say Iran would respond to any attack by targeting U.S. interests and Israel.

"We are not responsible for this regime and other enemies' foolishness ... If they strike Iran, our answer will be firm and precise," state television quoted Jafari as saying.

The United States, Israel and their Western allies fear that Iran is enriching uranium with the aim of producing nuclear weapons and have not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve the row.

Iran says it is pursuing only a nuclear power generation programme.

Israel, widely believed to be the Middle East's only nuclear power, has repeatedly described Iran's nuclear programme as a threat to its existence. Iran refuses to recognise Israel.

"NOT SCARED"

Jafari said Israel was entirely within the reach of Iran.

"Our missile capability puts all of the Zionist regime (Israel) within Iran's reach to attack," Jafari said. "The Zionist regime is too small to threaten Iran."

Military experts say Iran rarely reveals enough detail about its new military equipment to determine its military capabilities.

Israel has so far quietly acceded to Washington's strategy of talking to Tehran about curtailing its sensitive nuclear work.

Israel believes that a multi-level missile shield underwritten by the United States would protect the country against possible missile attacks.

Jafari said such a shield could only protect Israel "in a limited way".

"But they will have no answer when Iran bombards them (and) sends a great number of its missiles," he added.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in May Iran had tested a missile that defence analysts say could hit Israel and U.S. bases in the Gulf. Washington said the test was a "step in the wrong direction" to remove concerns over its nuclear work.

Iran has repeatedly threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz, conduit for about 40 percent of globally traded oil, if it is attacked. The U.S. military says it will prevent any such action.

Military experts say Iranian missiles often draw on technology from China, North Korea and other countries.

Israel has three German-made submarines that are widely assumed to carry nuclear missiles.

One of the submarines sailed from the Mediterranean, via the Suez Canal, to Israel's Red Sea port of Eilat in early July, seen as a signal to Iran of the long reach of its arsenal.

Jafari said Iran "was not scared" of Israel's military capabilities. "It is part of the psychological war that the West has launched against Iran," he said.

Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be wiped off the map, was re-elected in a disputed June 12 presidential vote that stirred the largest display of internal unrest in the country since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

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