Simultaneously wielding a carrot and a stick, Iran says it wants negotiations over its nuclear program yet is threatening to strike at every inch of Israel and hit NATO member Turkey if attacked.
Over the weekend, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said new sanctions by the U.S. and Europeans will harm prospects for negotiations which is something he says he wants. Quoted on Iranian TV, Ahmadinejad emphasized his preference for finding a peaceful resolution:
"We have always said we are willing to negotiate and cooperate. Negotiations are worth more than confrontation, but it seems [western nations] don't understand this and always return to confrontation," he added.
Even as he talked negotiations, Ahmadinejad’s deputies escalated the war of words against Israel the West. Unleashing a new threat, a senior Revolutionary Guards’ commander says Iranian forces will strike NATO's missile defense shield in Turkey if it is attacked. Ynet reports on the new defense strategy outlined by Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, the head of the Guards' aerospace division:
"Should we be threatened, we will target NATO's missile defense shield in Turkey and then hit the next targets," the semiofficial Mehr news agency quoted Hajizadeh as saying.
Tehran says NATO's early warning radar station in Turkey is meant to protect Israel against Iranian missile attacks if a war breaks out with the Jewish state. Ankara agreed to host the radar in September as part of NATO's missile defense system aimed at countering ballistic missile threats from neighboring Iran.
A military installation in the Turkish town of Kurecik, some 435 miles (700 kilometers) west of the Iranian border, has been designated as the radar site, according to Turkish government officials.
Hajizadeh said the United States also plans to install similar stations in Arab states south of Iran. He said increasing threats has made Iran alter it military defense strategy.
"Based on orders from the exalted commander in chief, we will respond to threats with threats," he was quoted as saying.
As for the main focus of Iranian threats, an Iranian general threatened his country’s Shahab-3 missiles could hit any location in Israel – particularly its nuclear sites - if it attacks the Islamic Republic. Iran’s PressTV reports:
A senior military commander says if Israel fires even a single missile at Iranian nuclear facilities, every inch of the entity will be the target of Iran's missiles.
Referring to recent anti-Iran rhetoric by the US and Israel, Brigadier General Yadollah Javani said on Saturday that Iran will not just repel enemy attacks and is capable of countering hostile attempts within enemy territory.
“If Israel fires a missile towards our nuclear or critical facilities, it should know that every inch of Israel including its nuclear centers are a target for our missiles [to hit] and we have this capability today,” the Iranian general said.
Earlier this month, a senior military adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned that Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza were poised with their weaponry to retaliate for any Israeli strike on Iran.
Iran’s claims that its nuclear work is for civilian purposes only were debunked by the International Atomic Energy Agency report earlier this month which documented secret experiments aimed at achieving nuclear weapons capability.
The report’s findings also suggest negotiations have been working in Iran’s favor. Iran used years of negotiations with the IAEA to work quietly and diligently on its program and is now well on its way to developing nuclear weapons. So while a peaceful resolution would be in the best interests of all sides, Iran has yet to demonstrate its willingness to voluntarily give up its nuclear ambitions.