Tehran: Iran would destroy Israel and 32 US military bases in West Asia if the Islamic republic was attacked over its disputed nuclear programme, a senior Iranian official was quoted as saying on Saturday.
Iran and Israel have been embroiled in an escalating war of words in recent weeks, sparking speculation of military confrontation and helping to send oil prices to record highs on global markets.
"The US knows full well that with the smallest move against Iran, Israel and 32 US military bases in the region would not be out of the reach of our missiles and would be destroyed," the semi-official Fars News Agency quoted Mojtaba Zolnour as saying.
IRAN TALKS TOUGH: Islamic republic says its missiles can reach across West Asia.
Zolnour, a cleric, is the deputy of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's representative in Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards.
"The capability of the Islamic Republic of Iran is to the extent that if the US fires a missile, Iran would be able to destroy Israel and US military bases in the region with its missiles before the dust from the US missile settles," he said.
The comments came days after Iranian missile tests, which included one missile Iran says could reach Israel and US bases in the region. Israel staged an air force exercise last month that stoked speculation about a possible assault on Iranian nuclear sites.
Iran, the world's fourth-largest oil exporter, has vowed to strike back at the Jewish state, US interests and shipping in the region if it is attacked, threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, conduit for about 40 percent of globally traded oil.
Iran says its nuclear projects are aimed only at generating electricity. Western nations and Israel fear the Islamic Republic is seeking to build bombs. Washington has said it wants diplomacy to end the row but has not ruled out military action should that fail. Israel, long assumed to have its own atomic arsenal, has sworn to prevent Iran from emerging as a nuclear-armed power.
Analysts say any US or Israeli attack on Iran would be limited to air strikes, rather than a full-scale attack with US ground forces, which are tied down in Iraq and Afghanistan. They say Iran could respond with unconventional tactics, such as deploying small craft to attack ships, or using allies in the area to strike at US or Israeli interests.