Iran’s Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Tuesday that Israel is not going to attack Iran because, if it could, it would have geared up to do so quietly rather than publicly discussing it.
“Israel can’t carry out an attack against such a big country [like Iran], and it knows that,” Salehi said. He called Israeli warnings about a possible strike “empty.”
He made the comments during his first interview on Egyptian national TV, Israel Radio reported.
Salehi also said his country’s neighbor, Azerbaijan, would not assist Israel in carrying out any attack on Iran. Israel and the Caspian country signed a weapons deal worth over $1.6 billion in February. It included drones, anti-aircraft weapons and missile defense systems.
The foreign minister used the interview to reiterate that Iran wants to normalize relations with Egypt. He said it was waiting for an official response to its proposal to reestablish diplomatic ties, severed in 1980 after the Islamic revolution.
Also on Tuesday, the IAEA said it would be ready for more talks with Iran soon. The head of the UN nuclear watchdog, Yukiya Amano, said that international meetings with Iran should take place despite the previous lack of progress, and that IAEA inspectors still seek to gain access to the country’s nuclear sites.
The head of Iran’s nuclear program Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani criticized the IAEA for a second day in succession on Tuesday, reiterating the accusation that members of the group were behind electrical outages at Iran’s underground uranium enrichment site in Fordo last month. On Monday, in acknowledging that an explosion occurred at Fordo last month, he noted that inspectors arrived soon after, accused the IAEA of being compromised by “terrorists and saboteurs,” and claimed some countries had too much sway in the organization.
On Monday, Abbasi suggested that even if Israel or the US did strike at Iran’s nuclear sites, this would not slow his country’s nuclear program. He said without elaboration that experts have “devised certain ways through which nuclear facilities remain intact under missile attacks and raids.”
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton and Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili were set to meet in Istanbul later Tuesday. The meeting is unofficial and part of an effort to restart stalled negotiations over Tehran’s atomic program.
The last round of talks between Iran and the P5+1 powers — the UN Security Council members Russian, China, France, the US, and the UK, plus Germany — was held in July but ended with no progress after Tehran refused to grant international inspectors access to key nuclear sites.