A top Iranian general warned Saturday that the country could increase its missile range beyond 2,000 kilometers if it feels threatened by Europe.
Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami, head of the powerful Revolutionary Guards, also claimed Israel was afraid to go to war with Lebanese terror group Hezbollah because this would lead to the annihilation of the Jewish state.
Salami said Iran could expand its missile range and had only not done so because it did not see Europe as a threat.
“If we have kept the range of our missiles to 2,000 kilometers, it’s not due to lack of technology. … We are following a strategic doctrine,” he said, according to a Reuters translation of a Fars report.
“So far we have felt that Europe is not a threat, so we did not increase the range of our missiles. But if Europe wants to turn into a threat, we will increase the range of our missiles,” he added.
In October, Revolutionary Guards Commander Ali Jafari acknowledged for the first time that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has imposed limits on the country’s ballistic missile program.
“Our missiles’ range is 2,000 kilometers, and that can be increased, but we believe this range is enough for the Islamic Republic as most of the US forces and most of their interests in the region are within this range,” Jafari said in comments carried by the Tasnim news agency and translated by Reuters.
However, in 2015 Iran reportedly tested the Soumar missile, which can reach as far as 2,500 kilometers, putting southeastern Europe as far as Budapest in Tehran’s gunsights.
France has led an effort for the European Union to confront Iran over continued ballistic missile tests, which have remained a point of contention after 2015’s landmark nuclear deal.
Like Iran, the EU maintains that ballistic missile tests do not breach the nuclear deal. Israel, the US and others say they are in contravention of the accord, because the missiles be used to carry nuclear weapons.
In an interview earlier this month, French president Emmanuel Macron called for vigilance towards Tehran over its ballistic missile program and regional activities.
“It is important to remain firm with Iran over its regional activities and its ballistic program,” he said.
Iran has responded by saying the accord and missile development are not up for negotiation.
Salami also said the Saudis were trying to push Israel into war against Iranian proxy group Hezbollah, but Jerusalem was afraid to fight them.
“The Zionist regime did not respond to this request and understood that any new war would lead to their disappearance,” he said, according to Fars.
His statements echoed those of Jafari Thursday.
“It is a proven claim that today we say any new war will lead to the eradication of the Zionist regime,” Jafari told Iranian reporters in Tehran according to semi-official media outlets.
Also on Thursday, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged the Muslim world to fight “cancerous tumor” Israel.
“Today, the issue of Palestine is the primary issue among the Muslim world, since it has been an Islamic country usurped and turned into a means of sabotaging the security of several countries in the region,” Khamenei tweeted. “This cancerous tumor [Zionist regime] should be fought against.”
Israel has raised alarm bells over Hezbollah and Iranian military activity in southern Syria and has vowed to protect the country from any provocation, including reportedly bombing advanced weapons transfers.
Iran’s leaders routinely call for the demise of Israel. Iran funds, trains and arms terror groups in Gaza, the West Bank and Lebanon.
Saudi Arabia has accused Iran and Hezbollah of working against its interests, including firing a rocket at Riyadh from Yemen which was shot down.
Salami said Iran, which backs the Yemeni Houthi rebels, had nothing to do with the rocket, saying the Houthis had developed it themselves.