Iran: Attack will lead to Israel's collapse

Iran's defence minister warned that an Israeli attack on Iran will lead to the collapse of the Jewish state, state-run television reported today, in one of the strongest statements from Iran indicating it would punish Israel should it attack Iran's nuclear facilities.

The comments by Gen. Ahmad Vahidi on Press TV come as Israel has recently stepped up its verbal threats that it may attack Iran's nuclear facilities. The US, Israel and many in the West fear that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons while Iran insists its nuclear program is strictly for peaceful purposes such as producing energy.

Israel has pointedly not ruled out a military strike designed to cripple Iran's nuclear programme, something Vahidi warned against today.

"A military attack by the Zionist regime (against Iran) will undoubtedly lead to the collapse of this regime," he was quoted as saying. The defence minister did not say what type of action Iran would take in such a scenario.

Israeli officials say Israel must act by the summer if it wants to effectively halt Iran's programme because Tehran is moving more of its nuclear installations deep underground.

Iran has spread its nuclear facilities across the vast country and has built key portions underground to protect them from possible airstrikes.

Israel views Iran as an existential threat, citing frequent calls by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for Israel's destruction, Iran's support for violent anti-Israel militant groups and its long range missile programme.

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