An Israeli war on Iran “will eventually happen,” but the Jewish state will be destroyed as a result, the head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said in comments published on Saturday.
“War will happen but it is not certain where and when,” General Mohammad Ali Jafari said, according to the ISNA and Fars news agencies.
“The shameful and cancerous tumor that is Israel is seeking war against us, but it is not known when that war will happen. They now consider war as the only way to confront us, but they are so stupid that their (U.S.) masters should stop them,” he said.
“If they begin (aggression), it will spell their destruction and will be the end of the story,” he said.
“This (war) will eventually happen as the (Islamic) revolution is moving towards its goals, and they cannot tolerate this. And finally, they will impose a war situation.”
The comments were the first time Iran has acknowledged the probability of open armed conflict with Israel. Previously, it had dismissed such a scenario as bluff on the part of Israel’s leaders.
Tensions, though, have risen significantly in recent weeks, with Israel threatening to unleash air strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.
Israel believes Iran’s nuclear program to be aimed at developing an atomic weapons capability that would menace its own existence, and its current status as the Middle East’s sole, if undeclared, nuclear weapons power.
Iran insists its program is exclusively for peaceful, civilian ends, but it is locked in a deepening standoff with the UN nuclear watchdog and the U.N. Security Council over the issue.
Jafari said that, “even if they (the Israelis) act rationally, this incident will happen.”
He added: “Everyone knows that they cannot confront the power of the Islamic republic.... But there is no guarantee of rationality, and it is possible that they will go crazy” and attack.
He said a war with Israel would contrast with Iran’s last war, the 1980-1988 conflict with Iraq that was characterized by invasion and counter-invasion by massed ground troops.
“We should use the experience of the sacred defense (during the Iran-Iraq war) to prepare for the future war, because its nature will be very different from the previous war,” he said.
Iran and Israel clashed at the annual meeting of the U.N. atomic agency on Thursday, further throwing into doubt a hoped-for 2012 conference on creating a Middle East free of nuclear weapons.
In lively debates at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) gathering of its 155 member states, Iran said on Thursday that Israel should accede to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty aimed at stopping the spread of nuclear weapons. At present the Israeli regime is the only non-party to the NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty] in this region despite repeated calls by the international community,” Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s envoy to the IAEA, said.
“Peace and stability cannot be achieved in the Middle East while the massive nuclear arsenal of that regime continues to threaten the region and beyond,” he said. Ehud Azoulay, the Israeli envoy, in turn pointed the finger at Iran and Syria, saying “the most significant threats to the nuclear non-proliferation regime are those, that pursue weapons under the guise of their NPT membership”.
“It is Iran which represents the greatest threat to peace and security in the Middle East and beyond,” he said. “No words in this room could distort the real facts behind Iran’s drive to nuclear weapons.”