Iranian army able to destroy Israel ‘alone’, says commander
Agence France-Presse in Tehran
Iran’s army “alone” is able to destroy Israel, army commander General Ataollah Salehi said on Thursday, responding to boasts by the Jewish state that its military that could attack its archfoe on its own.
“Our message to this illegitimate regime [Israel] is the same, we do not need to utilise all of Iran’s military forces,” Salehi said on the sidelines of the Islamic republic’s annual Army Day. “The army ... alone is able to destroy Israel.”
His comments come after Israeli chief of staff Lieutenant General Benny Gantz on Tuesday said the Jewish state’s military was capable of attacking Iran on its own without foreign support.
Asked in an interview on public radio if the military could wage attacks on Iran “alone” – without the support of countries such as the United States – Gantz replied: “Yes, absolutely.”
Israel believes the Islamic republic, which has issued many bellicose statements about the Jewish state, is working to achieve a military nuclear capability and has not ruled out a military strike to prevent this happening.
Iran denies it is developing an atomic bomb and says it needs its nuclear programme of uranium enrichment for peaceful medical and energy purposes.
Israel is widely believed to be the Middle East’s sole nuclear-armed state, albeit undeclared.
Since the 1979 Islamic revolution Iran has had two military forces - the regular army and the elite Revolutionary Guards Corps, which controls the ballistic missile programme is believed by Western military experts to be the more powerful and the better equipped of the two.
During Thursday’s military parade, Tehran displayed what it said were three newly-developed unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones.
“The Sarir [throne] drone is a stealth, with a long range flight capability and is equipped with a cameras and air-to-air missiles,” air defence commander Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili said as the aircraft went on display along with two other new drones, the Hazem-3 [firm] and Mohajer-B [immigrant].
Iran says it is developing drones to be used for surveillance as well as for attacks.
The Islamic republic regularly boasts of advances in the military and scientific fields, but western military experts often cast doubt on its claims.