(CNSNews.com) – Iran will attack American targets in the Middle East if Israel launches a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah declared on Monday night, fueling an already tense situation in the region.
The radical Shi’ite leader, whose group is often viewed as an Iranian proxy in Lebanon, said he doubted Israel would attack, but warned that if it did, Iranian officials have told him that “the retaliation will be huge.”
“Iran will not forgive a strike against its nuclear facilities,” Nasrallah said in an interview with the Beirut-based, pan-Arabist satellite channel Al-Mayadeen. “The Zionist entity will not be the only target. American bases in the region will be targets, too.”
Iran would target the U.S. “wherever” possible, he said, because Israel does not act independently of the U.S. and America would be held responsible for Israel’s actions.
Speculation continues to grow that Israel may attack Iranian facilities in a bid to retard what many Western governments suspect is an attempt to lay the groundwork for a nuclear weapons capability under the cover of a civilian program.
The latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iran, issued late last week, has added to the concerns.
Nasrallah has been relatively subdued for months while his other close ally, the Syrian regime, confronts the biggest challenge of the Assad era. Mideast analysts generally agree that the fall of President Bashar Assad would deal a severe blow to both Iran and Hezbollah – although what will take its place remains an unknown, and a source of concern in the West.
Hezbollah has itself been implicated in some of the deadliest terrorism directed at the U.S. in history – suicide bombing attacks at the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983 that killed more than 300 people, most of them Americans.
According to excerpts of Monday’s interview released by Hezbollah’s al-Manar television channel, Nasrallah did not directly threaten to attack U.S. targets himself, although he did warn Israel that Hezbollah and its ever more sophisticated missile arsenal was ready to deal a severe blow to the Jewish state, capable of hitting targets anywhere in “occupied Palestine.”
Nasrallah denied that his militia possesses chemical weapons, saying it had no need of them and also opposes their use, for religious reasons. Western governments have voiced concern in recent months over the safety of Assad’s admitted arsenal of chemical weapons, and there has been some speculation Syria may have made some available to its ally in Lebanon.
Nuclear watchdog’s work ‘significantly hampered’ by Iranian activities
In its latest safeguards report on Iran, the IAEA said the number of centrifuges at a uranium-enrichment plant at the underground Fordow facility near Qom has doubled in number.
It also reported that satellite imagery shows that “extensive activities” have been taking place at a military site where Iran is suspected of carrying out explosive tests that may have nuclear warhead applications. The IAEA has been asking since early this year to inspect the site at Parchin, near Tehran, but has so far been refused permission.
The signs of activity at the site since that request was made suggest attempts to clean it up and cover tracks. The report cites signs of “liquid run-off,” ground-scraping, and the removal and demolition of structures and buildings.