Iran in threat to destroy Israel
The top commander in Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard has warned that "nothing will remain" of Israel if it takes military action against Tehran over its controversial nuclear programme.
General Mohammad Ali Jafari said Iran's response to any attack will begin near the Israeli border. The Islamic Republic has close ties with militants in Gaza and Lebanon, both of which border Israel.
Iran has in the past made reference to the destruction of Israel but his comments at a Tehran news conference were unusually strongly worded and detailed.
He also said that Iran warned that oil shipments through the strategic Strait of Hormuz will be in jeopardy if a war breaks out between Iran and the United States. Iranian officials have previously threatened to close the waterway, the route for a fifth of the world's oil, but less frequently in recent months.
General Jafari also told a news conference in Tehran that if it is attacked, Iran will no longer be committed to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, under whose terms UN inspectors visit Iranian nuclear sites. He said however that this does not mean that Iran would build a nuclear weapon.
The US and Israel have both left open the possibility of a strike on Iran if diplomacy fails to stop what it says is a push for a nuclear weapon. Tehran says its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.
General Jafari however said that Iran believes the United States won't attack Iran because it is very vulnerable and its military bases in the Middle East are within the range of Iran's missiles. General Jafari also said Israel is very unlikely to take unilateral action.
Israel believes that any attack would likely unleash retaliation, in the form of Iranian missiles as well as rocket attacks by Iranian proxies Hezbollah and Hamas on its northern and southern borders.
General Jafari's comments come as US-led naval forces from the West and Arab allies gather for naval manoeuvres in the Persian Gulf that include mine-sweeping exercises.