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Iranian officials have warned Israel that there will be painful consequences if it attacks Iran in any way.

The head of the Iranian air force, General Seyed Reza Pardis, told the Mehr news agency on Monday that if Israel launches an attack on Iran, it will be "digging its own grave."

President Mohammad Khatami has also warned that Israel would be making a mistake if it carried out its threat to destroy Tehran's nuclear capabilities.

The warnings follow comments from Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz last week that an operation to destroy Iran's nuclear capabilities if necessary is under consideration. Speaking in Persian on Israel Radio, Mofaz said that if the need arises to destroy Iran's nuclear capability, "the necessary steps will be taken so that Iranian citizens will not be harmed."

Pardis also warned that an attack would have serious consequences beyond the imagination of the Israeli leadership. Whether these threats are serious or not, he said, Iran's armed forces are totally prepared to defend sensitive sites and the country's airspace.

The air force chief warned that "the Zionist leadership know that the Iranian Republic's armed forces, particularly its air force, has such impressive abilities that if a military strike is launched against Iran, it will be digging their own grave."

Iran's Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani was quoted by the Iranian students news agency as saying that "the minister of war of the Israeli leadership should know that if these threats are ever realized, there will be no safe place for the country's leaders and the Zionist regime will pay a very heavy price." He added that he did not believe that Mofaz's threats were real since "Israel knows Iran's defense capabilities very well."