TEHRAN, Iran – Iran has drawn up plans to bomb Israel if the Jewish state should attack, the deputy air force commander said Wednesday, adding to tensions already heated up by an Israeli airstrike on Syria and Western calls for more U.N. sanctions against Tehran.
Other Iranian officials also underlined their country’s readiness to fight if the United States or Israel attacks, a reflection of concerns in Tehran that demands by the U.S. and its allies for Iran to curtail its nuclear program could escalate into military action.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Sunday that the international community should prepare for the possibility of war in the event Iran obtains atomic weapons, although he later stressed the focus is still on diplomatic pressures.
The comments come as the top U.S. military commander in the Middle East, Adm. William Fallon, is touring Persian Gulf countries seeking to form a united front of Arab allies against Iran’s growing influence in the region.
Iran has periodically raised alarms over the possibility of war, particularly when the West brings up talk of sanctions over Tehran’s rejection of a U.N. Security Council demand that it halt uranium enrichment.
“We have drawn up a plan to strike back at Israel with our bombers if this regime (Israel) makes a silly mistake,” Iran’s deputy air force commander, Gen. Mohammad Alavi, said in an interview with the semiofficial Fars news agency.
Alavi warned that Israel is within range of Iran’s medium-range missiles and fighter-bombers.
White House press secretary Dana Perino said Alavi’s comment “is not constructive and it almost seems provocative.”
During a stop in Jerusalem, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Washington is committed to diplomacy but added that the United States hasn’t taken any military “options off the table.” She said that “it can’t be business as usual” with Iran, a country whose president has spoken of wiping Israel off the map.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said his government took Iran’s “threat very seriously and so does the international community.”
“Unfortunately we are all too accustomed to this kind of bellicose, extremist and hateful language coming from Iran,” he said.