“The Iranian nation is standing for its cause and that is the full annihilation of Israel,” Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi said in a speech to a defense gathering Sunday in Tehran.
His remarks came on the day International Atomic Energy Agency director Yukiya Amano flew to Tehran to negotiate for inspections of Iran’s Nuclear Program. They were reported by the Fars News Agency, the media outlet of the Revolutionary Guards Corps.
While many within the Islamic regime, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, have often stated that Israel should be annihilated, until Sunday no one in the nation’s leadership has announced Iran’s determined intention to carry it out. (RELATED: Iran rattles sabers: ’11,000 missiles ready to launch’ at Israel, US targets)
Josh Block, a Middle East expert and former spokesman for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, told The Daily Caller that it’s unwise to shrug off the threats of a top Iranian military commander.
“When they say it, they mean it,” Block said. “That is the lesson of history. We had best heed that reality. You can be sure the Israelis already understand it.”
Block is a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute who worked in the Clinton administration’s State Department. He told TheDC that the U.S. should be concerned about “an Iran that could give nuclear technology to their terrorist allies, including those like Al Qaeda and Hezbollah.”
In a statement, American Jewish Committee executive director David Harris said Firouzabadi’s comments “should also put to rest, once and for all, the fanciful views of those remaining political leaders, diplomats, and journalists who contend that Iran is a ‘peaceful’ nation which has simply been ‘misunderstood’ by the global community.”
Meir Dagan, the former head of Israel’s Mossad, and U.S. chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey, have both said recently that Iran is a rational actor in the international arena and that the Iranians will consider the implications of their actions.
Block also told TheDC that “the radicals and pseudo-experts at places like Plowshares, Media Matters, NIAC [the National Iranian American Council], writers for ThinkProgress, the New America Foundation and on and on” are “useful idiots and regime apologists” for Iran who continue to believe irrationally that Iran does not have the capacity to build a nuclear weapon. (RELATED: TheDC’s Jamie Weinstein: More proof Israel cannot tolerate a nuclear Iran)
They “are the same cranks,” he said, “who claim Iran has been ‘misquoted’ or ‘mistranslated’ and never called for the ‘annihilation’ of Israel. Well, I am sure they will find some way to continue their charade, but only to their further discredit.”