Iran warns it could bomb Israel if attacked

Iran on Wednesday said the military has drawn up a plan under which its fighter jets could bomb Israel if the Jewish state launched a military attack against the Islamic republic over its atomic drive.

“We have come up with a plan that in the event of possible foolishness by this regime, Iranian bombers can carry out an attack in retaliation against Israeli soil,” deputy air force commander Mohammad Alavi said, quoted by the Fars news agency.

“In addition to our missiles, whose range covers the whole soil of this regime, we can attack them with our fighter jets and respond to any attack — an unlikely event — with an air attack on their soil.

“This plan is not an empty threat because everything we do is based on planning. So Israel should remove any foolishness from its head.”

His comments came after French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner warned that the world should brace for war against Tehran over its nuclear activities, which the West suspects may be a cover for a weapons programme.

The United States and its ally Israel have never ruled out using military strikes to punish Iran for its defiance in the nuclear standoff and US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said on Sunday that “all options are on the table.”

However, Alavi echoed the belief of Iran’s top leaders that the foes of the Islamic republic are not in a position to make an attack.

“Israel is not an entity that could harbour a real threat against Tehran as it does not have the real ability.

“Its talk about an aerial attack is only psychological warfare because we reject the idea that this regime has the capability to attack Iran by air.”

But he added: “Israel knows what kind of blow it will get from our planes and missiles. Of course our plans are not made public but they should know that if they are needed they can be executed.”

Washington accuses Iran of seeking an atomic weapon. Tehran vehemently denies those charges, saying its nuclear drive is aimed at providing electricity for a growing population whose fossil fuels will one day run out.

Iran’s military elite has also warned the United States of the consequences for its interests of any attack, saying US bases in neighbouring Afghanistan and Iraq are well within the range of its missiles.

Tehran has always insisted it will never initiate an attack but has vowed it will respond with crushing force to any violation of its territory.

The Iranian air force has been hit by the US trade embargo, which means the country must work hard to find spare parts to keep its fleet in the air.

Many of Iran’s planes are of American origin and were bought in a massive arms-buying spree by the pro-US shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who was ousted by the Islamic revolution in 1979.

But the Islamic republic has developed two fighter jets that officials say have been built entirely with home-grown technology.

In August, it showed off for the first time the “Azarakhsh” (Lightning) jet, said to be modelled on the American F-5.

State media have reported that on Thursday the “Saegheh” (Thunder) – described as similar to the American F-18 – will make a public fly-by for the first time at Tehran’s city airport.