Iran warns it will respond with 'an iron fist' to military strike
Iran's supreme leader has warned Israel and the US that Tehran will respond with "a strong slap and iron fist" if either launched a military strike aimed at crippling the country's nuclear programme.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was speaking two days after the United Nations atomic agency released a report that for the first time said Iran was conducting experiments whose sole purpose was the development of nuclear arms.
"The enemies, particularly the United States and its pawns and the Zionist regime, should know that the Iranian nation does not seek to invade any country or nation," he said, addressing officers at a military academy in Tehran.
"But Iran will respond strongly to any invasion or attack with such power and in a way that the aggressors and invaders will be smashed from the inside. Anybody who takes up the idea of an attack on Iran should get ready to receive a strong slap and an iron fist."
His defiant rhetoric indicated that Tehran, which insists it is pursuing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, is set on a confrontation with the West.
The supreme leader, who has final say on all state matters in Iran, appeared to want to send a message that the Iranian establishment was united in its commitment to hit back against any pre-emptive attack.
However, diplomatic sources said that less confrontational elements in Iran's power structures would have been unnerved by the detailed report assembled by the International Atomic Energy Agency and by recent bellicose rhetoric from Israel.
Meanwhile William Hague, Britain's foreign secretary, has described the world as entering a "dangerous new phase" regarding Iran. (©Daily Telegraph, London)