TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran's former Revolutionary Guards chief Mohsen Rezai warned on Sunday he could stop Israel with "one strike" and said it would not dare to threaten the Islamic republic if he is elected president.
"My government... understands missiles and tanks as well as foreign policy and knows exactly where Israel's sensitive spots are. It could stop them forever with one strike," Rezai told a news conference.
"If government falls into our hands Israel will not dare threaten Iran because the Israelis and the Americans know us and our friends," said Rezai, who is one of three candidates challenging President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in the June 12 election.
"Our presence in government will act as a deterrent to threats," said the veteran conservative who headed the elite Guards force for 16 years to 1997, including during Iran's war with Iraq in the 1980s.
His comments came after an opinion poll by Tel Aviv University showed one in two Israelis back an immediate attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.
Israel and Washington accuse Iran of trying to develop atomic weapons under the guise of a civilian nuclear programme, a charge Tehran has repeatedly denied.
Israel, widely considered to be the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear armed state, considers Iran its main enemy following the hardline anti-Israeli stance adopted by Ahmadinejad who has said the Jewish state is doomed to be "wiped off the map."
Rezai has harshly criticised the hardline president, accusing him of adventurism and pushing Iran to the edge of a "precipice."
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