Iran to hit Israeli nuke sites if attacked: minister

Wed Dec 9, 2009 9:34am EST
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TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran would strike back at Israeli weapons manufacturing sites and nuclear installations if the Jewish state attacked the Islamic Republic's nuclear facilities, Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi was quoted as saying Wednesday.

Israel has refused to rule out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve an international dispute over Iran's nuclear program, which the West suspects is aimed at making bombs.

Iran denies the charge and has often warned it would retaliate if attacked. The head of the elite Revolutionary Guards said earlier this year that Iranian missiles could reach Israeli nuclear sites, a warning underlined by Vahidi.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran's armed forces are fully prepared," Vahidi told reporters during a visit to Syria when asked about any possible Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear sites, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported.

If attacked by Israel, Iran's first response would target various weapons manufacturing sites, including "dirty weapons and other unconventional nuclear centres," Vahidi said.

Israel is believed to be the only nuclear-armed Middle East state.

Iran has often said it has missiles able to reach the Jewish state. Western defense analysts have questioned whether they could hit long-range targets accurately.

Vahidi said "recent threats" by Israeli officials were aimed partly at covering up their own problems and to gain approval for an increased military budget, Mehr reported.

"But at the same time the Zionists know that they are not able to carry out any of their threats against Iran and they are aware of Iran's firm response," Vahidi said.   Continued...

<p>An Iranian Tondar missile is launched during a test at an unknown location in central Iran September 27, 2009. REUTERS/Fars News/Ali Shayegan</p>