(AFP) – Aug 30, 2008
TEHRAN (AFP) — A senior military commander warned on Saturday that any attack on Iran would start a new world war, as Tehran pressed on with its controversial nuclear drive despite the risk of further UN sanctions.
"Any aggression against Iran will start a world war," deputy chief of staff for defence publicity, Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri, said in a statement carried by the state news agency IRNA.
Iran is under international pressure to halt uranium enrichment, a process which lies at the core of fears about Iran's nuclear programme as it can make nuclear fuel as well as the fissile core of an atom bomb.
"The unrestrained greed of the US leadership and global Zionism... is gradually leading the world to the edge of a precipice," Jazayeri said, citing the unrest in Afghanistan, Iraq, Sudan and Georgia.
"It is evident that if such a challenge occurs, the fake and artificial regimes will be eliminated before anything," he said, without naming any countries.
Iran does not recognise Israel, which is often described by officials in Tehran as a "fake regime" and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has provoked itnernational outrage saying it should be wiped off the map.
The United States and its staunch ally Israel, the region's sole if undeclared nuclear armed nation, accuse Iran of seeking atomic weapons under the guise of a civilian nuclear programme.
Iran, a leading OPEC member, has vehemently denied the allegations, insisting its only wants to provide electricity for a growing population when its reserves of fossil fuels run out.
The United States has never ruled out military action against Iran over its defiance of international demands for an enrichment freeze, but so far is pursuing the diplomatic route.
Iran has repeatedly vowed a crushing response to any attacks and has flexed military muscles in recent years by holding war games and showing off an array of home-grown weaponry including ballistic missiles.
Another top military commander said Iran was prepared to "take the enemies off-guard" and would unveil more weapons in case of an attack.
"Some of the equipment of our armed forces have been announced but there are important things hidden whose effect would be shown on the day (of any attack)," deputy army commander Abdolrahim Mousavi told Fars news agency.
"Offensives are part of the strategy of defence and if a country confines itself to its borders it has set a limit and eliminated part of its capability," he said.
During war games in July which stoked international concern, aides to the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that Iran would target US bases and US ships in the Gulf as well as Israel if it was attacked.
Iran also test-fired its Shahab-3 missile which it says puts Israel within range.
In recent months, several Israeli politicians have talked of the possibility of a preemptive military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities to avoid any possibility of Tehran acquiring an atomic weapon.
Iran has repeatedly said it has no intention of halting enrichment despite three sets of UN Security Council sanctions and US and EU sanctions on its banking system.
Iran insists it has a right to enrich uranium for nuclear fuel as a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. It is currently operating about 4,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges and installing several thousand more.
However, the country's first Russian-built nuclear power plant is yet to come on line.
The Islamic republic risks further sanctions for failing to give a clear response to an incentives package offered in June by six world powers in return for a halt to the sensitive work.
World powers offered to start pre-negotiations with Iran during which Tehran would add no more uranium-enriching centrifuges and in return face no further sanctions.
The offer by permanent Security Council members Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States plus Germany included trade incentives and help with a civilian nuclear programme.
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