Iran to strike on US forces if attacked |
Says defence minister
In a marked escalation of a war of words between Iran and its arch-enemies Israel and the US, Tehran has for the first time threatened a preemptive strike against US troops in the region.
"We will not sit (with arms folded) to wait for what others will do to us," Iran's defence minister, Rear-Admiral Ali Shamkhani told Al-Jazeera TV on Wednesday when asked if Iran would respond to a US attack on its nuclear facilities.
"Some military commanders in Iran are convinced that preventive operations which the Americans talk about are not their monopoly,
"America is not the only one present in the region. We are also present, from Khost to Kandahar in Afghanistan; we are present in the Gulf and we can be present in Iraq," said Shamkhani.
An exchange of threats between Israel and Iran in recent weeks has led to speculation of a repeat of Israel's strike against Iraqi nuclear facilities at Osirak in 1981.
But analysts say such an attack is unlikely because of sensitivity to the US position in Iraq and the fact that Iran's nuclear facilities are scattered around the country.
Asked about the possibility of an American or Israeli strike against Iran's atomic power plant being built in Bushehr, Shamkhani added: "We will consider any strike against our nuclear installations as an attack on Iran as a whole, and we will retaliate with all our strength.
"Where Israel is concerned, we have no doubt that it is an evil entity, and it will not be able to launch any military operation without an American green light. You cannot separate the two."
"The US military presence (in Iraq) will not become an element of strength (for Washington) at our expense. The opposite is true, because their forces would turn into a hostage" in Iranian hands in the event of an attack, he said.
Earlier in the week, a commander of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards was quoted as saying that Tehran would strike the Israeli reactor at Dimona if Israel attacks the Islamic republic's own burgeoning nuclear facilities.
"If Israel fires one missile at Bushehr atomic power plant, it should permanently forget about Dimona nuclear center, where it produces and keeps its nuclear weapons, and Israel would be responsible for the terrifying consequence of this move," General Mohammad Baqer Zolqadr warned.
Iran's controversial bid to generate nuclear power at Bushehr is seen by arch-enemies Israel and the United States as a cover for nuclear weapons development.
Iran insists that its nuclear intentions are peaceful, while pointing at its enemy's alleged nuclear arsenal, which Israel neither confirms nor denies possessing.
Shamkhani also warned that Iran would consider itself no longer bound by its commitments to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the event of an attack.
"The execution of such threats (to attack Iran's nuclear installations) would mean that our cooperation with the IAEA had led to feeding information about our nuclear facilities to the attacking side, which (in turn) means that we would no longer be bound by any of our obligations" to the nuclear watchdog, he said.