The Iranian newspaper Kayhan reported Thursday that in the first minutes of any American conflict with Iran, “Israel and all U.S. interests around the world will be targeted.”
The newspaper, which is under the supervision of Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ran the story under the headline “11,000 Missiles Ready to Launch.”
And on Saturday, Tehran’s ambassador to Lebanon, Qazanfar Roknabadi, confirmed during a public roundtable event that the Islamic regime is prepared to attack both Israel and U.S. bases in the region if its nuclear facilities are attacked.
Citing comments from Gen. Zakaraia Hossein, the former head of the superior academy of Egypt, the Kayhan report added that “America fully knows that Iran is not Iraq” and that “a war with Iran would jeopardize all its interests in the region.”
The Kayhan report emphasized that the leaders of the Islamic regime have successfully thwarted American and Israeli threats over its illicit nuclear program. But given Iran’s missile capabilities, it said, any aggression on its soil will be met with the launch of 11,000 missiles against Israel and U.S. interests in the region.
The report said Iran had successfully launched three intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) during recent war games exercises. Though this has not been reported by other sources, such capability could drastically change the balance of power in the region and further escalate existing tensions.
In December it emerged that China sold Iran, for $11 billion, advanced DF-31 ICBMs which are capable of reaching U.S. soil with nuclear warheads. North Korean engineers are helping to get the missile system up and running.
While addressing supporters in Alborz province on Sunday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran stands firm against military threats. “The Iranian nation is not afraid of your bombs, warships and airplanes,” Ahmadinejad said, ”and does not care about such military weapons.”
“You say all options are on the table, leave them there until they rot.”
In Beirut, Roknabadi dismissed the idea of an Israeli first-strike, saying that “the Zionist regime is not able to stage military attack against Iran,” according to the Fars News Agency.
At the same event, the Mehr News Agency reported that Roknabadi repeated the Kayhan report’s claim that Iran has thousands of missiles at the ready.
“If the Zionist regime makes such a mistake with military aggression against Iran, it will face Iran’s crushing response,” he warned. “We have prepared ourselves and currently have 11,000 missiles ready to launch at the U.S. and Israel and their interests in the world.”
In an interview with Reuters on Saturday, Iran’s ambassador in Paris, Ali Ahani, said that the only way to move out of the current deadlock over Iran’s nuclear program is for the West to recognize Iran’s right to nuclear enrichment.
The Islamic regime’s strategists believe that further advancement in their nuclear program and an aggressive policy of responding to threats will finally convince the West to accept its nuclear activities and with that remove the sanctions against the country.
Iran continues with its illicit nuclear enrichment program despite four sets of U.N. sanctions. It has enough low-enriched uranium for six nuclear bombs and continues to enrich to the 20 percent level at the nuclear facilities of Natanz and Fordow. The Fordow facility is deep within a mountain and believed to be immune from air strikes. That uranium could become weapons-grade material within weeks if it were further enriched.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu announced on Friday that Istanbul will host the next round of talks between Iran and the six major powers, which is expected to be held in April.
Update: This story was updated after publication to include Sunday’s comments from Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and the author of the award winning book, ”A Time to Betray.” He teaches at the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy.