Iran has warned Israel that it would target its nuclear sites and stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction in case Tel Aviv posed a threat to Tehran.

“Should the Zionist [Israeli] forces pose any threat against Iran, we will never hesitate to target their nuclear sites and centres for proliferation of chemical, biochemical, as well as dirty and prohibited weapons,” said Iran’s Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi on Wednesday in Syria, Iran’s ally and a neighbour to Israel.

General Vahidi, on a three-day trip to Syria, said the presence of the United States was the root cause of instability in West Asia.

He advocated a greater role for regional players to promote lasting security in the region.

On Syria, General Vahidi said the two countries had drawn up a strategic plan to work closely in West Asia as well as internationally. He described Syria as its strategic ally. Both countries have jointly opposed Israel by backing the Lebanese Hizbollah and the Palestinian Hamas.

The Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) quoted him as saying that restoration of security and tranquillity in war-torn Iraq was among Iran’s major concerns. He added that the withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq would be a “turning point” for the restoration of security in the country.

General Vahidi pointed out that a collective security tie up among regional players, comprising Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria could eventually emerge as the anchor of regional security. Analysts point out that interaction, especially among Iran, Syria and Turkey has accelerated since the winter war in Gaza, which Ankara, along with Tehran and Damascus had strongly opposed.

Commenting on Yemen, General Vahidi denied any Iranian involvement in the country. On the contrary, he accused the United States, Britain, and Israel of weakening Yemen in pursuit of their “sinister goals.” Yemen’s location is significant as its borders oil rich Saudi Arabia in the north and has the Gulf of Aden, a major international trade and energy corridor, to the south.

Supporting diplomatic intervention by Islamic countries, General Vahidi called upon the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) to play a “leading role” in resolving the crisis. He said that intervention by Saudi Arabia will bring more instability to Yemen. With winter approaching in north Yemen’s Saada mountains, the battleground of the conflict between the Zaydi and the Yemeni military forces, General Vahidi appealed to international organisations to step up humanitarian assistance to refugees fleeing the battle zone.

More In: International | News