Iranian mouthpiece threatens Israel with map of targets

Responding to talk of IDF strike on nuclear sites, state-affiliated Tehran Times publishes piece saying Israelis need reminder that Iranian forces can hit anywhere they want

The front page of the Tehran Times, December 15, 2021. (Tehran Times)
The front page of the Tehran Times, December 15, 2021. (Tehran Times)

Iran’s state-affiliated Tehran Times issued a threat to Israel on Wednesday, publishing a map of the country riddled with markers as a reminder that Iranian forces can ostensibly strike anywhere they want.

Alongside a front-page opinion piece headlined “Just one wrong move!” the map showed scores of markers along the length and breadth of the country.

Though the paper didn’t specify what the markers represented, the article opened by declaring, “An intensification of the Israeli military threats against Iran seems to suggest that the Zionist regime has forgotten that Iran is more than capable of hitting them from anywhere.”

It went on to cite Hebrew media reports about a visit last week by Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Mossad chief David Barnea to Washington, where they reportedly stressed concerns over Iran’s ballistic missile threat.

The paper also noted that the Israel Defense Forces earlier this month said it will conduct a major air force exercise in the spring simulating a strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.

The piece quoted Major General Mohammad Bagheri, chief of general staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, as saying Tuesday that “at the strategic level we do not intend to strike anyone, but at the operational and tactical level we are ready for a decisive response and a quick and tough offensive against the enemy.”

“The Tehran Times doesn’t need to remind the illegitimate regime of Israel of Iran’s defense capabilities,” the article said. “Yet they need to remember something.”

The paper then recalled Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s remarks in 2013 that “they are threatening to strike militarily, but I think they know it, and if they do not know it, they must know that if they make a mistake the Islamic Republic will destroy Tel Aviv and Haifa.”

“Keep your hands off!” concluded the newspaper.

The Tehran Times piece came as talks are being held in Vienna to save a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers that has been unraveling after the US pulled out of the pact.

The so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action lifted sanctions from Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear program that were aimed at preventing the Islamic Republic from obtaining nuclear weapons.

This photo released Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021, by the Iranian Army, shows a missile being fired during a military drill at an undisclosed location in Iran. (Iranian Army via AP)

The Trump administration withdrew from the deal in 2018 and reimposed crippling sanctions, claiming the JCPOA was not strict enough and did not address Iran’s ballistic missile program. Since then Iran has also rolled back many of its commitments to the deal, in particular upping its uranium enrichment activities to levels surpassing those permitted in the agreement and raising fears it is becoming a nuclear weapons threshold state.

US President Joe Biden has said he is willing to rejoin the JCPOA under the right circumstances but will not lift the sanctions until Iran reverts the progress it has made.

Israel, which opposes a US return to the deal without stronger safeguards, has repeatedly said it reserves the right to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities if that is what is needed to prevent Tehran from arming with nuclear weapons.

With the US, along with European representatives at the nuclear talks, voicing pessimism and frustration over Iran’s demands so far, there have been reports that Israeli and American officials have been studying military options for stopping the Iranian program.

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