Middle East

Iran’s military response will be ‘immediate and at a maximum level’ if Israel attacks, foreign minister says

By Simone McCarthy and Tara John, CNN

CNN  — 

Iran’s response if Israel takes any further military action against it would be “immediate and at a maximum level,” Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian told CNN Thursday, as fears rise of an escalation of the conflict in the Middle East.

“In case the Israeli regime embarks on adventurism again and takes action against the interests of Iran, the next response from us will be immediate and at a maximum level,” Amir-Abdollahian told CNN’s Erin Burnett in an exclusive interview in New York.

His remarks come in the wake of an unprecedented Iranian attack on Israel last week that Tehran said was retaliation for a deadly suspected Israeli airstrike on Iran’s consulate in Syria – placing the region on edge as Israel vowed to strike back in return.

Amir-Abdollahian made the comments hours before a US official told CNN Israel carried out a military strike inside Iran.

Iranian state media had reported explosions were heard close to a major military airbase near the Iranian city of Isfahan Friday morning, and a government official said Iranian air defenses had intercepted three drones.

Last Saturday, Iran launched hundreds of drones and missiles on Israel in response to the April 1 attack on its Damascus consulate that killed at least seven officials, including a top Iranian commander.

The Iranian attack on April 13 appeared designed to maximize spectacle while minimizing casualties, and Israel and its allies downed the vast bulk of the projectiles.

The tit-for-tat strikes have brought a decades long shadow war between Israel and Iran out in the open and sent fear coursing through the Middle East.

Israel’s allies, including the United States, have called for restraint from Israel in a bid to prevent strikes from escalating into a regional war, as Israel’s ongoing war against Palestinian militant group Hamas in Gaza sends tensions between it and its neighbors soaring.

It is unclear if Israel will listen to the calls of its allies.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday said Israel will make its “own decisions” when responding to Iran’s airstrikes.

Speaking from the Iranian Permanent Mission to the United Nations, Amir-Abdollahian said Iran sincerely hoped Israel would not repeat “the previous egregious error,” referencing the apparent Israeli strike in Damascus.

“If the Israeli regime commits the grave error once again our response will be decisive, definitive and regretful for them,” Amir-Abdollahian said, noting that this warning had been communicated to the White House via the Swiss Embassy in Tehran.

“We do not seek to create tension and crisis or increase such situations in the Middle East and we sincerely hope the Israeli regime does not repeat the previous egregious error,” he said.

The details of a potential “maximum response” have been planned by Iran’s armed forces, he added.

Amir-Abdollahian also said he is hopeful potential Israeli actions could be stopped by the US and that the White House “will not give renewed permission for adventure-seeking” by Israel.

“We believe that America will calculate according to messages that were exchanged between us over the past six months,” he said, when asked whether American assets could be targeted if the US helps to defend against incoming missiles against Iran.

“In (the) previous operation, we announced to the Americans that we will not target American bases and installations in the region other than if we come across a condition in which the United States of America puts itself beside the Israeli government in order to expand the warfare intentions,” he said.

Amir-Abdollahian also said the intent of the Iranian strike on Israel last weekend was ” to warn” and to “have taken equal action” and “to let it (be) known we do have the means to respond.”

He said the more than 300 missiles and drones fired by Iran on Saturday “stayed within a minimum of frameworks” and the action was “legitimate defense” in response to the suspected Israeli strike.

“Our operations in response were carried out at a minimum because we were not seeking to hit multiple targets,” he said.

This story has been updated with additional developments.

CNN’s Jennifer Hauser and Adam Pourahmadi contributed to this report.

Related Articles

Back to top button