Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi Monday warned that Israel will be targeted by his country’s armed forces if it makes “the tiniest move” against Iran.
Raisi addressed Israel directly during a speech at an annual parade of Iran’s armed forces.
“If you make the tiniest move against the nation of Iran, the center of the Zionist regime will be the target of our armed forces,” Raisi said, referring to Tel Aviv.
Raisi did not elaborate, but said Iran watches any move by Israel “closely.”
He spoke as talks stalled in Vienna over a deal to rein in Iran’s nuclear capabilities. European-sponsored talks hope to save the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which gave Iran relief from sanctions in return for curbs on its nuclear program aimed at preventing it from obtaining a weapon.
The deal has crumbled following a US exit in 2018 after which Iran dropped some of its own commitments, vastly expanding its nuclear work and enriching uranium to levels the UN nuclear watchdog has said are only pursued by nations seeking nuclear weapons.
Israel opposes a deal, saying it does not do enough to curb Iran’s nuclear program or its military activities across the region. Israeli officials have said they will unilaterally do what’s necessary to protect their country.
Raisi also said that “The greatest component of power in our system is the people and the revolutionary armed forces.”
He said the armed forces’ readiness brings hope “to the lovers of the Islamic Revolution… and its message to the enemy is that our armed forces have the power to deter any movement of the enemy.”
Iran has not recognized Israel since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that ousted the pro-West monarchy and brought Islamists to power. It supports anti-Israeli terror groups such as Hamas and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah.
Raisi said the army has managed to improve its capabilities, despite years of sanctions on the country over Tehran’s nuclear program. Monday’s parade showcased jet fighters, helicopters, drones and air defense systems as well as military tanks, missiles and naval vessels.
Israel in recent years improved relations with neighboring Arab nations in the Persian Gulf, which has angered Iran’s leaders. Tehran also has blamed Israel for the sabotage of its nuclear sites and the assassinations of its nuclear scientists.
US intelligence agencies and the IAEA believe Iran had an organized military nuclear program until 2003. Iran insists its nuclear program is aimed at generating power and for medical purposes.