The Israeli & Iran Issue


‘Strike would trigger World War III’

TEHRAN, Iran, Sept 23, (Agencies): A senior commander in Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard warned that Iran will target US bases in the region in the event of war with Israel, raising the prospect of a broader conflict that would force other countries to get involved, Iranian state television reported Sunday.
The comments by Gen Amir Ali Hajizadeh, who heads the Guard’s aerospace division, came amid tension over Iran’s nuclear program and Israel’s suggestion that it might unilaterally strike Iranian nuclear facilities to scuttle what the United States and its allies believe are efforts to build a bomb. Tehran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

Hajizadeh said no Israeli attack can happen without the support of its most important ally, the United States, making all US military bases a legitimate target.

“For this reason, we will enter a confrontation with both parties and will definitely be at war with American bases should a war break out,” Hajizadeh said in remarks that were posted on the website of Iran’s state Al-Alam TV. US facilities in Bahrain, Qatar and Afghanistan would be targeted, he said.

“There will be no neutral country in the region,” Hajizadeh said. “To us, these bases are equal to US soil.”
The US Fifth fleet is based in Bahrain and the US has a heavy military presence in Afghanistan.

The Iranian warning appears an attempt to reinforce the potential wider consequences of an attack by Israel. The message is not only intended for Washington, but to its Gulf Arab allies that are fearful of a regional conflict that could disrupt oil shipment and cripple business hubs in places such as Dubai and Qatar’s capital Doha.

It also comes during a major show of naval power in the Gulf by US-led forces taking part in military exercises, including mine-sweeping drills. The US Navy claims the maneuvers are not directly aimed at Iran, but the West and its regional allies have made clear they would react against attempts by Tehran to carry out threats to try to close critical Gulf oil shipping lanes in retaliation for tighter sanctions.

Despite Israeli hints of a military strike, Iran’s military commanders believe Israel is unlikely to take unilateral action against Iran. The Guard’s top commander, Gen Mohammad Ali Jafari, said last week that Iran believes the United States won’t attack Iran because its military bases in the Middle East are within the range of Iran’s missiles.

Iran has also warned that oil shipments through the strategic Strait of Hormuz will be in jeopardy if a war breaks out between Iran and the United States. Iranian officials had previously threatened to close the waterway, the route for a fifth of the world’s oil, if there is war.

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 his boss warned that conflict was inevitable.
Should Israel and Iran engage militarily, “nothing is predictable... and it will turn into World War III,” Ali Hajizadeh told Iran’s Arabic-language television network.

Hajizadeh, who is in charge of Revolutionary Guards missile systems, said: “In circumstances in which they (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.”

He warned that Israel “cannot imagine our response — and it will sustain heavy damage and that will be a prelude to its obliteration.”

On Saturday, 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 (aggression), 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.”
He added: “We will not start a war. But if someone wages war against us, we will launch continuous offensives.”
Meanwhile, Iran plans to switch its citizens onto a domestic Internet network in what officials say is a bid to improve cyber security but which many Iranians fear is the latest way to control their access to the web.
The announcement, made by a government deputy minister on Sunday, came as state television announced Google Inc’s search engine and its email service would be blocked “within a few hours”.
“Google and Gmail will be filtered throughout the country until further notice,” an official identified only by his last name, Khoramabadi, said, without giving further details.
The Iranian Students’ News Agency (ISNA) said Google ban was connected to the anti-Islamic film posted on the company’s YouTube site which has caused outrage throughout the Muslim world. There was no official confirmation.
Iran has one of the biggest Internet filters of any country in the world, preventing normal Iranians from accessing countless sites on the official grounds they are offensive or criminal.
But many Iranians believe the block on sites such as Facebook and YouTube is due to their use in anti-government protests after the disputed re-election of President Mahmoud Ahamdinejad in 2009.
Sites expressing views considered anti-government are also routinely blocked.
Iranians commonly overcome the government filter by using virtual private network (VPN) software that makes the computer appear as if it is based in another country.
But officials have long spoken of creating an Iranian Internet system which would be largely isolated from the World Wide Web.
“In recent days, all governmental agencies and offices ... have been connected to the national information network,” deputy communications and technology minister Ali Hakim-Javadi was quoted as saying by the Mehr news agency.
The second phase of the plan would be to connect ordinary Iranians to the national network, he said.
According to Iranian media, the domestic system would be fully implemented by March 2013 but it was not clear whether access to the global Internet would be cut once the Iranian system is rolled out.
Even using VPNs, many Iranians suffered serious problems accessing email and social networking sites in February, ahead of parliamentary elections.
The Islamic Republic tightened cyber security after its nuclear programme was attacked in 2010 by the Stuxnet computer worm, which caused centrifuges to fail at its main uranium enrichment facility.
In another development, a senior Iranian lawmaker accused the UN nuclear watchdog on Sunday of passing confidential details of Iran’s atomic work to Israel, and a military commander said Tehran may consider a pre-emptive strike on the Jewish state if it looked set to attack.
Javad Jahangirzadeh, a member of parliament’s presiding board, said International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano had made “repeated trips” to Israel, divulging sensitive information about what Tehran says is its peaceful nuclear programme.
“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.
The IAEA declined to comment. Records show Amano has made only one visit to Israel in his capacity as IAEA chief, in August 2010. He visited Tehran in May this year.
“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, also a member of parliament’s national security and foreign policy committee.
Siemens
Siemens denied Sunday that it had sold any nuclear equipment to Iran, after a prominent Iranian lawmaker accused the German firm of selling the country gear that was laced with explosives.
The lawmaker, Aladin Borujerdi, who chairs the parliamentary national security and foreign policy commission, said Siemens had sold Iran equipment for its nuclear programme that contained mini-explosives, Iranian media reported Sunday.
“Intelligence-security apparatus succeeded in discovering explosives in equipment which were provided to us for our nuclear activities,” Borujerdi said in an interview with parliament’s ICANA news website (www.icana.ir/NewsPage.aspx?NewsID=206727).
“The explosives were to blow up when activated to disrupt the whole system. Domestic experts nullified the plot of the enemy, however,” he was quoted as saying by ICANA.
“The company Siemens, which provided this equipment, must answer for its action,” he said.


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