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.
He spoke as talks stalled in Vienna over a deal to rein in Iran’s nuclear capabilities, which Tehran says are used for peaceful purposes. 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 addressed Israel directly during a speech at an annual parade of Iran’s armed forces.
“If the tiniest move by you happens against nation of Iran, center of the Zionist regime will be destination of our armed forces,” Raisi said, referring to Tel Aviv.
Raisi did not elaborate but said Iran watches any move by Israel “closely.”
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 militant groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.
Raisi said that Iran’s military power is a deterrent. He said army 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.
The nuclear deal collapsed four years ago when former President Donald Trump withdrew the United States and imposed crushing sanctions on Iran. In the meantime, Iran has vastly expanded its nuclear work.
U.S. intelligence agencies and the IAEA believe Iran had an organized military nuclear program until 2003. Iran insists its nuclear program has aimed at generating power and for medical purposes.