Iran's military will target Israel's heart if it makes "the slightest move" against the Islamic Republic, President Ebrahim Raisi told a military parade Monday.
"If you make slightest move against our nation ... our armed forces destination will be the heart of the Zionist regime," Raisi said in a televised speech from the Army Day parade in Tehran.
Raisi also referred to ever-closer cooperation between Israel and Arab states that have normalized relations with the Jewish state.
“Our message to the Zionists is that if you pursue normalization with regional countries, you must know that your smallest action is not hidden from our armed forces and intelligence bodies…,” he said.
The establishment of full relations between the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, two Persian Gulf Arab states with Israel in 2020 was a significant setback for the Islamic Republic that has campaigned tirelessly in isolating what it calls “the Zionist enemy”.
Tehran’s nuclear program and support for militant groups in the region is what hastened the establishment of ties between Arab states and Israel, which have begun to cooperate on military and intelligence areas.
In February, Israeli defense chief Benny Gantz visited the small Persian Gulf country of Bahrain to expand cooperation, after Iran-backed Yemeni Houthis attacked UAE with missiles and drones in January.
In March, the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt and Morocco held a summit in Israel, in what was a historic development in the Middle East.
Raisi compared the Islamic Republic’s adversaries to Iraq’s Saddam Hussein who attacked Iran in 1980, a year after the establishment of the new revolutionary regime. Eight years of war followed with neither side winning. Saddam was eventually overthrown by a US invasion in 2003 and hanged by a new government.
Raisi said Iran’s enemies should look at what happened to the Iraqi leader and draw their own lessons.
He also drew attention to Biden administration statements that the US ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions against the Islamic Republic have failed. Iranian officials have been using this line of attack against the United States, after the State Department on January 25 criticized former president Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear agreement known as JCPOA, and the imposition of sanctions on Iran.
“Today, the State Department spokesman announces in front of the whole world that we [the US] are disgracefully defeated in sanctioning and [exerting] maximum pressure on Iran, and this is the fate of those who want to confront the Islamic system,” Raisi said.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had also used this argument, saying the US was defeated and has to agree with Iran’s terms in a new nuclear deal.
Nuclear negotiations that began in April 2021 have stalled as Tehran has demanded the removal of the Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) from the US list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO).
Top Iranian officials while insisting on their “red lines” in the talks, are trying to put up a brave face, insisting that that they have been able to circumvent US sanctions by exporting more oil and repatriating the funds. The Biden administration apparently relaxed the enforcement of sanctions in 2021 as it was trying to reach a new agreement with Tehran to restore the JCPOA.