AFP | June 28, 2008

The chief of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards has issued a new warning against Israel not to attack it, saying the Jewish state is well within range of its missiles, a newspaper reported on Saturday.

“This country (Israel) is completely within the range of the Islamic republic’s missiles. Our missile power and capability are such that the Zionist regime — despite all its abilities — cannot confront it,” General Mohammad Ali Jafari told the conservative daily Jam-e Jam.

“There is the possibility that by attacking Iranian nuclear sites the enemy wants to delay our nuclear activities, but any interruption would be very short since Iranian scientific ability is different from that of Syria and Iraq.”

His comments came after US media reported that more than 100 Israeli warplanes staged a training exercise with Greece earlier this month to prepare for a possible long-distance strike — a manoeuvre seen as a warning to Tehran.

Iran has defied UN sanctions and international demands by pressing ahead with its disputed uranium enrichment programme, which both Washington and Israel fear would be used to build a nuclear weapon.

The authorities in Tehran deny seeking to manufacture an atomic bomb, and say the country’s nuclear ambitions extend only to generating electricity for a growing population.

Israeli Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, a former defence chief, said in an interview published in the Russian press on Wednesday that Iran would be “annihilated” if it tried to attack Israel.

But, he said, “we are not planning any attack against Iran.”

Last Sunday Iran’s defence minister dismissed the reports that Israel had conducted a dry run for air strikes against its nuclear drive as “psychological operations,” but warned of a limitless response to an attack.

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