Iran warns Israel

23 December 2003
Senior Iranian officials issued strongly worded warnings to Israel about the possibility of attacking Iran. The warnings were issued in response to comments made in late December on local Israeli radio by Israeli Defence Minister, Shaol Mofaz, who said that if the need arose, Iran would be able to destroy Iran's nuclear programme. 'The Zionist leadership know that the Iranian Republic's armed forces, particularly its air force, has such impressive abilities that if a military strike is launched against Iran, it will be digging their own grave,' said Iranian Defence Minister Ali Shamkhani. 'We will strongly confront any threat that may seek to challenge our national security and interests.' Former acting commander-in-chief of the armed forces, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, reaffirmed Shamkhani's statement. 'If Israel takes an unwise step to attack Iran, it will not be able to do much and will receive a response that would make it regret its action,' he said.

Mofaz's warning to Iran came after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board of directors on 27 November voted against referring its breaches of the Non-Proliferation Treaty to the UN Security Council - a decision much criticised by Israel. Instead, IAEA director general Mohammed El-Baradei used the occasion to send a strong warning to Tehran. 'By today's decision, the international community affirmed, in no uncertain terms, the integrity of the nuclear non-proliferation regime by strongly deploring Iran's failures and breaches to comply with its obligations under the safeguards agreement,' he told diplomats and journalists in Vienna.

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