Iran military chief says Israel can't stop nuclear program
Revolutionary Guards commander hints Hezbollah, Hamas would also strike at Israel in event of attack on Iran.
The commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards warned Israel against launching a military strike on Iran, adding that any such attack would not halt Iran's nuclear program given that Tehran's nuclear capabilities are at an advanced stage.
In comments published on Saturday in the Iranian newspaper Jam-e Jam, the Guards commander-in-chief Mohammad Ali Jafari said that Israel "is completely within the range of the Islamic republic's missiles" and it cannot confront Iran's missile power.
"The enemy possibly wants to delay our nuclear activities by attacking our nuclear sites, but any interruption would be very short since Iranian scientific ability is different from that of Syria and Iraq," he said.
Jafari suggested Iran's allies in the region, who include Lebanon's Shi'ite militia Hezbollah, could also retaliate. He referred to Iran's ties with those living in Lebanon's Shi'ite heartland of south Lebanon but did not refer to any group.
"Israelis know if they take military action against Iran ... the abilities of the Islamic and Shi'ite world, especially in the region, will deliver fatal blows," Jafari said.
He also hinted that Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that receives Iranian funding and which has sent suicide bombers into Israel, might act. But, again, he did not name the group.
Jafari warned Iran's neighbors in the region not to let their territory be used as a base for others to launch a strike.
"If the attack takes place from the soil of another country ... the country attacked has the right to respond to the enemy's military action from where the operation started," he said.
Kuwait, the launch pad for the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and Iraq itself, where U.S. troops are now stationed, have both said they would not let their land be used for a strike on Iran. The U.S. military has bases in other Gulf states and Afghanistan.
Jafari said U.S. forces were "more vulnerable than Israelis" because of their troops in the area. Iran's top authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has in the past said Iran would target U.S. interests if attacked.
"Iran can in different ways harm American interests even far away," the Guards commander said.
Ali Jafari added that Iran would impose controls on shipping in the vital Gulf oil transit route if the Islamic Republic came under attack.
Speculation about a possible attack on Iran because of its disputed nuclear ambitions has risen since a report this month said Israel had practiced such a strike.
"Naturally every country under attack by an enemy uses all its capacity and opportunities to confront the enemy. Regarding the main route for exiting energy, Iran will definitely act to impose control on the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz," Ali Jafari told Jam-e Jam.
Iranian officials have in the past sent mixed signals about whether it would use oil as a weapon in any confrontation.
Tension between Iran, the world's fourth largest oil producer, and the West and Israel over its nuclear plans has been one factor helping prop up sky-high oil prices.
The Islamic Republic insists its nuclear program is peaceful and aimed at generating electricity. But the West and Israel fear Iran is seeking to build atomic bombs. Israel is believed to be the only Middle East state with nuclear arms.
Washington has said it wants diplomacy to end the nuclear row but has not ruled out military action should that fail.
"If there is a confrontation between us and the enemy from outside the region, definitely the scope (of the confrontation) will reach the oil issue," Jafari said.
"After this action (of Iran imposing controls on the Gulf waterway), the oil price will rise very considerably and this is among the factors deterring the enemies," he said.
He warned countries in the region not to let their territory be used for any attack.
The United States has military stationed in the area, including Iran's neighbors Iraq and Afghanistan. Tehran has often said U.S. troops should withdraw to let regional countries handle their own security.
"If enemies from outside the region use the soil of regional countries against the Islamic Republic of Iran ... the governments of those countries will be responsible and it is our obvious right to act in the same way against their military capabilities and abilities of enemies anywhere," Jafari said.