Iran's most powerful authority said the Islamic Republic would destroy the Israeli cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa if Israel launched a military attack against it.
"At times the officials of the Zionist regime threaten to launch a military invasion but they themselves know that if they make the slightest mistake the Islamic Republic will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said during an address, broadcast live on state television.
Israel has threatened military action against Iran unless it abandons nuclear activities which the West suspects are intended to develop nuclear weapons, allegations Tehran denies.
U.S. President Barack Obama, visiting Israel for the first time as president, said during a joint press conference with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Wednesday, referring to the Iran nuclear program, that "there is time to resolve this diplomatically." He added that "all options are on the table" if diplomacy falls short.
"The question is, will Iranian leadership seize that opportunity," he said. The U.S. president also said Iran's past behavior indicates that "we can't even trust yet, much less verify."
Netanyahu, for his part, said he and Obama agree that it would take Iran about a year to manufacture a nuclear weapon if it tries to do so. Netanyahu also said he was "absolutely convinced that the president is determined to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons," and that he was certain Obama appreciated that Israel "can never cede the right to defend ourselves to others, even to the greatest of our friends", a hint at a possible go-it-alone plan to attack Iran's nuclear program."
"I appreciate that. I appreciate the fact that the president has reaffirmed, more than any other president, Israel's right and duty to defend itself by itself against any threat," said Netanyahu. Obama, whose administration has in the past privately sought to head off a unilateral military strike against Iran, said Netanyahu was "absolutely correct" that each country has the right to defend itself.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now