Spokesman for the Iranian Chief of Staff, Abu al-Fadl Shikaraji, threatened to strike the cities of Tel Aviv and Haifa and flatten them with the ground, as he put it, in case Israel implemented its plans to launch a possible attack on Iranian targets. Meanwhile, the Pentagon announced sending a B-52 bomber (B-52) to the Middle East for the sixth time in the framework of deterring any potential aggression.
In response to the request of the Israeli Chief of Staff, Aviv Kochavi, of the Israeli army, to prepare for a possible attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, Iranian television quoted Shkaraji as describing the Israeli threats as psychological warfare and illusions.
He stressed that the Iranian army will destroy the Israeli missile bases as soon as Iran is subjected to any attack, threatening to annihilate Tel Aviv and Haifa in the event that Israel makes any mistake against Iran, according to the Iranian military spokesman.
In the context, Mahmoud Vaezi, director of the office of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, considered that the Israeli threat comes within the framework of psychological warfare, indicating that the Israelis do not have any plan or any ability to attack Iran, as he put it.
Iran’s representative to the United Nations, Majid Takht Rawanji, said that his country would not hesitate to defend itself, and would respond strongly to any threat to its security. Rawangi added that Tel Aviv continues what he described as lies and deceit to show that the Iranian nuclear program poses a threat to the region.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Army conducted a series of military exercises that lasted for about two weeks, and included several exercises such as the use of drones, the launch of ballistic missiles, and paratroopers.
The Iranian response came after the Israeli Chief of Staff revealed that his army had prepared an accurate plan for a possible military attack on Iran, which would thwart any attempts to approach the possession of a nuclear bomb.
In statements during a conference organized by the Defense Research Institute at Tel Aviv University – Kochavi indicated that his army attacked 500 targets in the Middle East in 2020, and said that the Israeli operations in Syria aimed to prevent the continuation of the Iranian presence there.
After the statements of his army chief of staff about drawing up plans that include a possible military attack on Iran, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel would not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon, indicating in a speech to him on the occasion of the Holocaust remembrance that his words are directed at the enemy and friend alike.
Netanyahu added that this is a supreme task for Israel to keep its continuation and defend itself, as he put it.
For his part, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz called for a dialogue with the new US administration on Iran’s nuclear file.
He added that the Israeli security services and their various divisions will continue to work to prevent Iran from becoming a military nuclear state, pointing out that Tel Aviv will use all the tools available to it politically, economically, intelligence and security.
The nuclear deal
US President Joe Biden, who took office a week ago, hinted at the possibility of Washington returning to the Iran nuclear deal on the condition that Tehran return to fully implement its obligations under it, which it had begun to gradually retreat from a year after the US withdrawal.
In this context, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said that Tehran will implement its nuclear obligations as soon as all parties return to fulfill their obligations and lift the sanctions imposed on Iran.
In a cabinet meeting, Rouhani added that all countries in the world except for Israel and two countries in the region are calling for the United States to return to the nuclear deal, as he put it.
Tehran threatened Tuesday to suspend the implementation of the Additional Protocol for the IAEA’s control of Iran’s nuclear activities on February 21, if the rest of the parties do not abide by their commitments.
In the same context, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Iranian Mohammad Javad Zarif stressed the importance of preserving the nuclear agreement.
At the conclusion of bilateral talks between the two ministers in Moscow, Lavrov said that his country is doing its utmost to find a formula to save the agreement in light of the new US administration’s desire to return to it.
For his part, Zarif stressed the need to cancel the US sanctions imposed on his country before its return to implement its obligations within the agreement.
The Russian Foreign Ministry called on Tehran not to take any steps that would obstruct the full implementation of the nuclear agreement.
In light of these developments, the US Central Command said that a strategic B-52 bomber was launched from Braxdale, Louisiana, on Tuesday, to fly over the Middle East, which is the sixth time in the region experiencing tension with Iran.
The Central Command added that the aim of the bomber’s flight is to demonstrate the ability of the US military to send air forces to anywhere in the world, to deter any potential aggression, and to demonstrate the commitment of the United States to regional security.
The Wall Street Journal quoted a US official as saying that deterring Iran will give the Biden administration more room for policymaking. The official added that the bombers would continue to be dispatched until the Biden administration formulated a new policy.
And earlier this month, US Central Command announced that the B-52 bombers had successfully completed a sortie in the Middle East, the second of its kind since the start of the new year.
Iran commented on these flights at that time, according to its Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, saying that “sending B-52s to the region is to intimidate the Iranians, so it is better for Washington not to waste its billions on such action.”
Tensions increased between Iran and the United States before the inauguration of US President Joe Biden as president of the country, to succeed President Donald Trump, who pursued a policy of pressure on Tehran by withdrawing Washington from the nuclear deal, imposing economic sanctions and exchanging fiery statements between the two countries.