Top Iran official: Israel will pay for Gaza 'crimes' if it attacks nuclear program
Israel will pay the price of its "crimes" in the Gaza Strip if it went ahead with its threats to strike Iran's nuclear facilities, Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi said on Sunday.
Vahidi's comment referred to mounting speculation that Israel would strike Iran's nuclear facilities after the International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran had tested designs used to make nuclear warheads. It was only one of several such recent remarks by top Iranian defense officials.
On Saturday, a senior commander of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard said the country will target NATO's missile defense shield in Turkey if the U.S. or Israel attacks the Islamic Republic.
Earlier Saturday, another Iranian defense official threatened retaliation against Israel if any of its nuclear or security sites are attacked.
"If Israeli missiles hit one of our nuclear facilities or other vital centers, then they should know that any part of Israeli territory would be target of our missiles, including their nuclear sites," General Yadollah Javani of the Revolutionary Guards told ISNA news agency.
"They [Israel] know that we have the capability to do so," he added.
Speaking to the semi-official Mehr news agency, Vahidi commented on the possibility of an Israeli strike, saying that if Israel tried to carry out its threats Iranian forces would "take revenge on this regime" for what Mehr called "years of atrocities" against "oppressed nations."
The Iranian defense minister added that the "Zionist regime has not yet paid the price" for actions committed in the Gaza Strip, adding that the Islamic Republic would avenge Israel for its policies.
Referring to the extent of Iran's response to an Israeli attack, Vahidi mocked Israeli preparedness, saying: "Why does the Zionist regime issue such threats? For how many missiles has it readied itself: 10 thousands, 20 thousands, 50 thousands, 100 thousands, 150 thousands, or more?"
If Israel attacks, “the Basijis [Iranian fighters] will not even give Israel the time to breathe."