August 15, 2006

Iranian missiles ready to hit Tel Aviv says cleric

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran will hit Tel Aviv with its
medium-range missiles if attacked, said an influential senior
cleric on Tuesday.

"If they (U.S. and Israel) militarily attack Iran ... They
should be afraid of the day when our missiles with 2,000 km
range will hit Tel Aviv," Ahmad Khatami told state television.

Khatami sits on the Assembly of Experts, the body of 86
clerics that constitutionally supervises the country's most
powerful man, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Arms experts say Iran's Shahab-3 missiles have a maximum
range of around 2,000 km (1,240 miles), meaning they are
capable of hitting Israel as well as U.S. military bases in the

U.S. officials accuse Iran of planning to equip its
missiles with nuclear warheads. Iran says it has no desire to
have atomic weapons and is only developing nuclear technology
for peaceful purposes, such as electricity generation.

Iranian military commanders have repeatedly warned they
would not hesitate to deploy the Shahab-3 missiles if Iran came
under attack over its disputed nuclear programme.

Washington says it wants a diplomatic solution to Iran's
nuclear dispute with the West, but has not ruled out military

Tehran has vowed to expand its atomic fuel activities
despite a U.N. Security Council resolution demanding it halt
nuclear work by August 31 or face the threat of sanctions.

Khatami praised Lebanon's Hizbollah for its resistance
against Israel, saying that President Bush and Israel's Prime
Minister Ehud Olmert should have learned lessons from the
month-long war in Lebanon.

"I congratulate Hizbollah for its victory, which was the
victory of Islam. This was a disgraceful defeat for America and
the Zionist regime (Israel)," Khatami said.

Bush on Monday reiterated that Iran should stop supporting
armed groups in both Iraq and Lebanon.

Iran, which refuses to recognize Israel, says it only gives
moral support to anti-Israeli groups like Hamas and Hizbollah
and denies backing insurgents in neighbouring Iraq.