MADRID (Reuters) -Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said neither Israel, nor the United States, would dare attack the Islamic Republic over its nuclear program, a Spanish newspaper quoted him as saying in an interview.
The Iranian president was responding to a question on a recent article by Britain’s Sunday Times that Israel had secret plans to destroy Iran’s uranium enrichment facilities with tactical nuclear weapons.
“They well know the power of the Iranian people. I don’t think they would ever dare to attack us, neither them nor their masters. They won’t do such a stupid thing,” Ahmadinejad told El Mundo during a visit to Nicaragua, referring to Israel.
Conservative Iranian leaders, such as Ahmadinejad, see Israel as a stooge of the United States in the Middle East.
Iran does not recognize Israel and Ahmadinejad has previously called for Israel to be “wiped off the map.”
“That regime wants to hurt the Iranian people. They have many dreams but they are not all powerful,” said the Iranian leader.
Israel has refused to rule out pre-emptive military action against Iran along the lines of its 1981 air strike against an atomic reactor in Iraq, although many analysts think Iran’s nuclear facilities are too much for Israel to destroy alone.
Asked about whether he wants to see Israel destroyed, Ahmadinejad avoided a direct answer, but seemed to refer to an earlier statement in which had said that Israel would be wiped out “just as the Soviet Union was wiped out.”
“Where is the Soviet Union?” he told El Mundo, “It has disappeared.”
The U.N. Security Council voted unamimously last month to impose sanctions on Iran to try to stop its uranium enrichment program, which Tehran insists is peaceful.
The United States, which suspects Iran wants nuclear weapons, says it wants a diplomatic solution to the deadlock but military force remains an option.
Israel has said it will not allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons.