The commander of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said on Monday that destroying Israel was now an “achievable goal.”
Four decades on from Iran’s Islamic revolution, “we have managed to obtain the capacity to destroy the impostor Zionist regime,” Major General Hossein Salami was quoted saying by the IRGC’s Sepah news site.
“This sinister regime must be wiped off the map and this is no longer … a dream [but] it is an achievable goal,” Salami said.
The remarks were made at a biannual meeting in Tehran for commanders of the IRGC amid rising tensions between Iran and the US and its allies.
Salami’s comments were given prominent coverage by the Tasnim and Fars news agencies, close to ultra-conservative political factions.
The official IRNA agency also carried his remarks, but placed more emphasis on his assertion that Iran was growing stronger and would finally beat its foes despite “hostility” toward it.
US President Donald Trump officially designated the IRGC as a terrorist organization in April. “This unprecedented step, led by the Department of State, recognizes the reality that Iran is not only a State Sponsor of Terrorism, but that the IRGC actively participates in, finances, and promotes terrorism as a tool of statecraft,” the president said in a statement. “The IRGC is the Iranian government’s primary means of directing and implementing its global terrorist campaign.”
Salami’s comments Monday came two days after Abbas Nilforoushan, the deputy commander of operations of the IRGC, threatened that if Israel attacks Iran, it will have to collect “bits and pieces” of Tel Aviv from the Mediterranean Sea.
“Iran has encircled Israel from all four sides. Nothing will be left of Israel,” said Nilforoushan in an interview with the Iranian news agency Tasnim on Saturday. “Israel is not in a position to threaten Iran,” he said according to a translation published by Radio Farda, the Iranian branch of the US government-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
“If Israel makes a strategic mistake, it has to collect bits and pieces of Tel Aviv from the lower depths of the Mediterranean Sea,” he added.
“If the enemies could have started a war against Iran, they would have done it,” Nilforoushan said, adding that geography plays to Iran’s favor. “We are not a small country that could be conquered in one step. If all the Western, Arab and Israeli coalitions forces enter our country, Iran’s geography will defeat them before they can do anything.”
Nilforoushan also boasted of Iran’s “deep and long-range [missile] assault capability” and said Tehran has the means to make this capability operations.
“We will not let the enemies to face us at our borders. We will quickly drag the war to the bases and interests of the enemies anywhere they may happen to be,” he warned.
Iran has been on edge, fearing an attack on the country over a drone-and-missile strike on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry earlier this month attributed to Tehran. Yemen’s Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have claimed the attack, but the US alleges Iran carried out the assault.
The attack in Saudi Arabia was the latest incident following the collapse of Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, over a year after US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the accord. The nuclear deal was meant to keep Tehran from building atomic weapons — something Iran denies it wants to do — in exchange for economic incentives.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was a sharp critic of the nuclear deal negotiated under the administration of former President Barack Obama, and welcomed Washington’s pull-back from the accord, urging further pressure on Iran.
Earlier this month, Netanyahu exposed the existence of a secret nuclear facility in central Iran in which he said the regime had conducted experiments in the pursuit of nuclear weapons. The Israeli premier said that once Iran detected that Israel had learned about the secret nuclear site, located in Abadeh, south of Isfahan, the regime quickly destroyed it.
Iran regularly threatens Israel, viewing the country as a powerful enemy allied with the United States and Sunni countries in the region against Tehran and its nuclear ambitions.
Israel has also thwarted Iranian operations in neighboring Syria where its fighters and those of Iranian proxy Hezbollah have been fighting alongside forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad since 2011.
Tensions with the Hezbollah terror group soared this month after the Israel Defense Forces late last month thwarted an attempt by Iranian operatives in Syria — including two former Hezbollah members — to carry out an attack on northern Israel with armed drones and attacked their base. It also followed a drone attack in Beirut, attributed to Israel, that reportedly destroyed key components of a joint Hezbollah-Iran project to manufacture precision-guided missiles in Lebanon. Hezbollah responded to the attacks by firing anti-tank missiles into northern Israel earlier this month, although Israel said no soldiers were injured in the incident.
Hezbollah is seen by Israel as one of its most dangerous enemies, with an arsenal of rockets and missiles larger than that of most countries. The IDF last week completed a week-long training program for its senior combat officers aimed at preparing them for a war against Hezbollah, providing them with the latest intelligence, fighting methods and operational plans.