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Iran warns Israel, US of World War III if attacked


Iran could launch a pre-emptive strike if Israel prepares to attack it, a senior Revolutionary Guards commander told broadcaster Al-Alam on Sunday, a day after another top Iranian official warned that conflict was inevitable.

Should Israel and Iran engage militarily, "nothing is predictable... and it will turn into World War III," Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh told Iran's Arabic-language television network.

"In circumstances in which [the Israelis] have prepared everything for an attack, it is possible that we will make a pre-emptive attack. But we do not see this at the moment," said Hajizadeh, who is in charge of the Revolutionary Guards' missile systems.

He went on to say that the Islamic Republic would hold the United States accountable for Israel's actions.

"Whether the Zionist regime attacks with or without US knowledge, then we will definitely attack US bases in Bahrain, Qatar and Afghanistan," he said.

He warned that Israel "cannot imagine our response," and would "sustain heavy damage, and that will be a prelude to its obliteration."

On Saturday, the head of the Revolutionary Guards, General Mohammad Ali Jafari, said war between Iran and Israel "will eventually happen, but it is not certain where and when."

It was the first time a senior Iranian official had acknowledged a probability of war breaking out between the two arch-foes.

Jafari, quoted by the ISNA and Fars news agencies, also said such a conflict would lead to the annihilation of Israel.

"If they begin, it will spell their destruction and will be the end of the story," he said.

On Sunday, Jafari's deputy, Brigadier General Hossein Salami, told Fars in an interview that Iran's "defensive strategy is based on the assumption that we will engage in a war, a massive battle against a global coalition led by the US."

He said the Islamic republic had made preparations to "crush" the enemy by hitting "enemy bases in the region, the security of the Zionist regime Israel, and the energy market, as well as the lives of enemy forces."

"We will not start a war. But if someone wages war against us, we will launch continuous offensives," he added.

Tensions have risen significantly in recent weeks, with Israel threatening to unleash air strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.

Israel, currently the region's sole--if undeclared--nuclear power, believes Iran is developing nuclear weapons program that would threaten its very existence.

Russia, Iran's main backer, has repeatedly said no evidence exists to suggest the Islamic republic seeks to develop nuclear weapons.

Iran insists its program is exclusively for peaceful, civilian ends, but it is locked in a deepening standoff with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the UN Security Council over the issue.

Iran, UN relations sink further

Also on Sunday, a senior Iranian lawmaker accused the head of the IAEA of passing confidential information about Iran's nuclear activities to Israel as the body's relationship with Iran continues to deteriorate.

Javad Jahangirzadeh, a member of parliament's presiding board, said IAEA chief Yukiya Amano would be to blame if Iran reduced its ties with the body.

"Amano's repeated trips to Tel Aviv and asking the Israeli officials' views about Iran's nuclear activities indicates that Iran's nuclear information has been disclosed to the Zionist regime and other enemies of the Islamic Republic," Jahangirzadeh was quoted as saying by Iran's English-language Press TV.

"If the agency's actions lead to Iran cutting cooperation with this international body, all responsibility will be with the IAEA director general," said Jahangirzadeh, who is also a member of parliament's national security and foreign policy committee.

Last week, Iranian nuclear energy chief Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani said "terrorists" might have infiltrated the Vienna-based agency, suggesting the IAEA may have included too much sensitive information about Iran's nuclear program in its reports, which, he said, could be used by saboteurs.

Western diplomats dismissed his allegations as an attempt to distract attention away from the agency's bid to gain access to a site in Iran it suspects may be used for nuclear weapons research.

Iran blames Israel and its Western allies for the assassination of nuclear scientists in Iran, including an unsuccessful attempt on Abbasi-Davani in November 2010. It also blames those countries for computer viruses that appeared designed to damage its nuclear machinery.

The 35-nation board of the agency censured Iran earlier this month for defying international demands to curb uranium enrichment and failing to address mounting disquiet about its suspected research into atomic bombs.

The resolution prompted Iran's Parliament Speaker, Ali Larijani, to cast doubt on the benefit of Iran's membership in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), The Tehran Times reported.

(AFP, Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

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