Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ruled out an attack on the Islamic republic over its nuclear programme, during a visit to Qatar on Sunday, because any such action would result in Israel’s destruction.
“Any act against Iran will lead to the eradication of the Zionist entity,” he told a joint news conference in Doha with Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, after their talks.
Israel, the region’s sole if undeclared nuclear power, has not ruled out a military strike to prevent Iran acquiring an atomic weapons capability, an ambition its arch-foe Tehran strongly denies.
“The Zionist entity and the US government would hit any country in the region whenever they are able to do so, and they will not wait to get permission. But (at the moment) they cannot,” he said.
“Iran has the ability to retaliate, strong and hard,” warned Ahmadinejad, whose comments in Farsi were translated into Arabic.
Iran’s hardline president said the talk of war against Iran to halt its controversial nuclear programme was aimed at putting psychological pressure on Tehran.
“There will be no war against Iran. What could take place is a psychological war,” he said.
In renewed criticism of the relaunched direct peace negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel, Ahmadinejad charged that the “decaying” Jewish state was hoping to “revive” itself through the talks.
“The Zionist entity is decaying. It is in a critically difficult state, and hopes to revive itself through an unfruitful dialogue,” he said.
Ahmadinejad had on Friday said the Washington-sponsored talks were “doomed” to fail, and infuriated the moderate Palestinian leadership by slamming it as unrepresentative.
“Who gave them the right to sell a piece of Palestinian land? The people of Palestine and the people of the region will not allow them to sell even an inch of Palestinian soil to the enemy,” he said at an annual pro-Palestinian rally.
Unlike other Arab states in the Gulf that have echoed Western suspicions about Iran’s nuclear programme and its ambitions in the region, Qatar has maintained friendly relations.
In May when the United States was pushing for a new round of UN sanctions against Iran, Qatar backed Turkish and Brazilian efforts to broker a deal that would avoid further punitive measures.
But Qatar is also a staunch US ally and hosts two American military bases.
As-Sayliyah base served as the coalition’s command and control centre during the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq, while the US air force used Al-Udeid airbase in the 2001 war in Afghanistan and in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion.