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Iran TV airs cleric’s threats to raze Tel Aviv, target US bases

In Friday sermon, religious leader lauds Tehran’s ballistic missile technology, says it will continue to enrich uranium

In a sermon carried on state TV, an Iranian cleric threatened that his country will “raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground” and target US bases.

Ayatollah Ali Movahedi-Kermani, whose Friday sermon was translated on Sunday by MEMRI, a US-based media watchdog group, spoke extensively about Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities. Movahedi-Kermani claimed that Tehran would use Iranian-made Sejjil missiles against Israel as a defensive deterrent if Jerusalem ever decided to attack the Islamic Republic.

“If such a mistaken idea of attacking Iran occurs to Israel one day, we will, as our supreme leader said, raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground,” the cleric warned.

The sermon, which was carried by Iran’s Channel One, a government-owned station, also threatened US bases in the region, declaring that neither the United States nor Israel was safe from Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities.

“The Sejjil ballistic missile can hit and raze to the ground any place in Israel, as well as any American base in the region,” the ayatollah claimed, adding that all of “Israel’s atomic or missile centers… are within range of the powerful, fast, and awe-inspiring missiles of Iran.”

The ayatollah, who took frequent pauses seemingly to allow the crowd of thousands to chant, among other things, “Allahu Akbar,” “Death to England,” “Death to America” and “Death to Israel,” mentioned the Iron Dome defense system by name and asserted that the acclaimed Israeli missile interceptor was no match for Iranian ballistic missile technology.

“They thought their fortress would protect them from Allah, but the decree of Allah came upon them from where they had not expected,” Movahedi-Kermani told the crowd of thousands.

The Iron Dome, which was introduced into service in 2011, intercepted 735 of the 805 Gaza rockets at which it was fired during the summer’s war with Hamas. The air defense system, unlike anti-ballistic missile developments such as the Arrow and David’s Sling, is not designed to be used against ballistic missiles.

The religious leader also addressed ongoing nuclear negotiations between the P5+1 coalition and Iran. The coalition, made up of the United States, China, France, the United Kingdom, Russia and Germany, is currently in discussions with Iran in an attempt to steer Tehran away from developing nuclear weapons.

“Iran will not even go back one step from the research and development and the enrichment of uranium and will not relinquish its full right to nuclear energy,” the ayatollah proclaimed.

Tehran strongly denies allegations that it is developing nuclear weapons and insists the country’s controversial nuclear program is intended solely for civilian use.

“The other side has no choice but to conduct negotiations with us in a respectful atmosphere,” he added.

Movahedi-Kermani ended his sermon by calling out US President Barack Obama, denying that US tactics of sanctions against Tehran had forced the oil-rich republic into negotiations.

“Obama says it was sanctions that brought Iran to the negotiating table,” the cleric said. “You are wrong. Iran has joined the negotiations to show you and the world that you are lying.”

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