TEHRAN, Iran — The air force commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps warned on Friday that Israel “would cease to exist” if it launched an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
“If a conflict breaks out, the Zionist regime would be able to manage the beginning of the war, but the response and end would be in our hands, in which case the Zionist entity would cease to exist,” said Amir Ali Hajizadeh. “The number of missiles launched would be more than the Zionists could imagine,” he added, according to Iran’s Fars news agency.
Hajizadeh was speaking at a major military parade in Tehran.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used the event to lash out at the West over an anti-Islam film produced in the United States and the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad by a French satirical weekly.
Ahmadinejad said that “in return for (allowing) the ugliest insults to the divine messenger, they — the West — raise the slogan of respect for freedom of speech.” He asserted that this shows a double standard and “is clearly a deception.” Ahmadinejad called the film a plot conceived by Zionists to cause discord among Muslims.
The parade, which marked the anniversary of the beginning of the Iran-Iraq war 32 years ago, involved thousands of soldiers, and showed off Iran’s new air defense system, Raad.
According to the semi-official Fars agency, Raad, or Thunder, is more advanced than its Russian predecessor and is designed to confront fighter jets, cruise missiles, smart bombs, helicopters and drones.
The agency said Raad carries missiles with a range of 50 kilometers (30 miles), capable of hitting targets at 22,000 meters (75,000 feet).
The parade also involved thousands of troops, and tanks and missiles carried on trucks. It was held to mark the anniversary of the start of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.
The surface-to-surface missile Qadr-F, which has a range of 2,000 kilometers and can reach Israel, was displayed, as was the Sajjil two-stage ballistic missile, which has a similar range.
Ahmadinejad’s remarks came after a week of protests and riots by Muslims angered by the film that depicts Islam’s prophet as a womanizer, religious fraud and child molester.