(AFP) – Apr 15, 2008
TEHRAN (AFP) — Iran would "eliminate Israel from the global arena" if it was attacked by the Jewish state, the deputy commander of the army warned on Tuesday, amid an intensifying war of words between the two foes.
"We are not worried by Israeli manoeuvres, but if Israel takes such action against the Islamic Republic of Iran, we will eliminate it from the global arena," Mohammad Reza Ashtiani was quoted as saying by the Mehr news agency.
His comments come a week after Israeli National Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer warned that any Iranian attack against Israel "would lead to the destruction of the Iranian nation."
Ashtiani, whose comments were also reported by the official IRNA news agency, was speaking at a news conference ahead of Iran's national army day on Thursday when a major military parade is expected in Tehran.
"As the President (Mahmoud Ahmadinejad) has said, we have a great motivation to defend the frontiers of our country," he added.
"In the case of any action by Israel, we are ready to eliminate it from the global arena."
Israel last week held a five-day exercise codenamed "Turning Point" simulating air and missile attacks on cities, including by non-conventional weapons, the biggest drill of its kind ever carried out in the Jewish state.
The exercise sparked alarm in Israel's northern neighbour Lebanon, home to the Shiite militant group Hezbollah which is enthusiastically supported by Tehran.
Israel, the Middle East's sole if undeclared atomic arms power, accuses Iran of seeking a nuclear weapon and, along with its chief ally the United States, has never explicitly ruled out a military attack against the Islamic republic.
But Iran, which does not recognise Israel, insists that its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful and solely aimed at generating energy for a growing population.
Ahmadinejad provoked outrage by calling for Israel to be "wiped from the map" and then repeatedly predicting it is doomed to disappear. He also courted more controversy by playing down the scale of the Holocaust.
In February, he described the Jewish state a "dirty microbe" and "savage animal," prompting another tirade of condemnation from Tehran's Western foes.
But Iran vehemently denies charges of anti-Semitism, pointing to the continued existence in the country of the largest Jewish community in the Middle East outside Israel and saying it is only against Zionism.
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