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. Iran Revolutionary Guards chief in new warning to Israel: report
TEHRAN, June 28 (AFP) Jun 28, 2008
The chief of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards has issued a new warning against Israel not to attack it, saying the Jewish state is well within range of its missiles, a newspaper reported on Saturday.

"This country (Israel) is completely within the range of the Islamic republic's missiles. Our missile power and capability are such that the Zionist regime -- despite all its abilities -- cannot confront it," General Mohammad Ali Jafari told the conservative daily Jam-e Jam.

"There is the possibility that by attacking Iranian nuclear sites the enemy wants to delay our nuclear activities, but any interruption would be very short since Iranian scientific ability is different from that of Syria and Iraq."

His comments came after US media reported that more than 100 Israeli warplanes staged a training exercise with Greece earlier this month to prepare for a possible long-distance strike -- a manoeuvre seen as a warning to Tehran.

Iran has defied UN sanctions and international demands by pressing ahead with its disputed uranium enrichment programme, which both Washington and Israel fear would be used to build a nuclear weapon.

The authorities in Tehran deny seeking to manufacture an atomic bomb, and say the country's nuclear ambitions extend only to generating electricity for a growing population.

Israeli Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer, a former defence chief, said in an interview published in the Russian press on Wednesday that Iran would be "annihilated" if it tried to attack Israel.

But, he said, "we are not planning any attack against Iran."

Last Sunday Iran's defence minister dismissed the reports that Israel had conducted a dry run for air strikes against its nuclear drive as "psychological operations," but warned of a limitless response to an attack.

"Iran will not begin any conflict but will punish any aggressor with force. With determination and using all the options -- without limit in time and space -- we will give a destructive response to any hostile action," Mostafa Mohammad Najar said.

General Jafari also warned that Iran could wreak havoc with the support of anti-Israeli militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah.

"Revolutionary Muslims, whether Shiite or Sunni, see the US and Israel attack against Islamic Iran as an attack on the Islamic world and thus defence will be on their mind without a doubt," he told the daily.

Iran maintains that its support for Hamas and Hezbollah is moral and has repeatedly denied supplying them with arms. Israel and United States consider both to be terrorist groups.

Iran, number two in the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), has said that using oil as weapon is not on its agenda -- but has also not ruled it out.

"It is natural that when a country is attacked it uses all of its capabilities against the enemy, and definitely our control of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz would be one of our actions," Jafari said.

The strait is a vital conduit for energy supplies, with about 20-25 percent of the world's crude oil from Gulf oil producers passing through the waterway.

"Certainly if there is fighting... the scope will be extended to oil, meaning its price will increase drastically. This will deter our enemies from taking action against Iran."

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