Top Iranian military chief says country is prepared for ‘global battles’ if its nuclear facilities are attacked

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  • General said Israel would face fierce retaliation if it  attacks
  • EU has imposed new raft of sanctions against Iran in effort to  make country halt nuclear programme
  • European satellite  provider took 19 Iranian television and  radio broadcasters off the air

The  acting commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard has warned that the country is  prepared for ‘global battles’ if its nuclear sites are attacked.

General  Hossein Salami said Israel will ‘definitely’ face fierce retaliation if it  attacks Iranian nuclear sites.



His  words, reported by the  semiofficial ISNA news agency,  seem to be part of Iran’s efforts  to portray any strike  as the trigger for a regional conflict.

Tough times: General Hossein Salami spoke out in the face of punitive EU sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programmeTough times: General Hossein Salami  spoke out in the face of punitive EU sanctions against Iran over its nuclear  programme

Inflammatory words: Gen Salami made his comments on the sidelines of combat drills by paramilitary fighters controlled by the Revolutionary Guard, known as Basiji, picturedInflammatory words: Gen Salami made  his comments on the sidelines of combat drills by paramilitary fighters  controlled by the Revolutionary Guard, known as Basiji, pictured

Willing to retaliate: Iran will respond to offensive action from Israel with force, warned he acting commander of the Revolutionary GuardWilling to retaliate: Iran will  respond to offensive action from Israel with force, warned he acting commander  of the Revolutionary Guard

The  implication is that such a clash could draw in Iranian  proxies, such as  Lebanon’s Hezbollah, on Israel’s borders.

He spoke  on the sidelines of urban  combat drills in Tehran by 15,000 paramilitary  fighters known as  Basiji, who are controlled by the Revolutionary Guard.

The  exercises were dubbed ‘Ila Beit ol  Moqaddas,’ or Toward the Holy City, meaning  Jerusalem. The war games  include drills on defending against mock air raids and  other threats.

The  European Union is currently imposing new sanctions against Iran in a bid to  force the country to come clean about its nuclear programme.

A meeting  of EU foreign ministers on Monday imposed restrictive measures intended to hit  the country’s treasury and increase pressure on its Islamic regime headed by  President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Defiance: A protest against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards last month in Lebanon, which Gen Hossein warned could be drawn in to any future clash with IsraelDefiance: A protest against the  Iranian Revolutionary Guards last month in Lebanon, which Gen Hossein warned  could be drawn in to any future clash with Israel

Meanwhile, a leading European satellite  provider took 19  Iranian television and radio broadcasters off the air, a result of earlier  sanctions which prompted accusations of censorship  and threats to sue from  Iranian state television.

European  Union governments imposed  sanctions on Tuesday against major state companies in  the oil  and gas industry and strengthened restrictions on the central bank,  cranking up financial pressure.

More than  30 firms and institutions were listed in the EU’s Official  Journal as targets  for asset freezes in the EU, including the National  Iranian Oil Company, a  large crude exporter, and the National  Iranian Tanker Company.

Both are  vital to the Iranian oil industry, the main source of revenue for the  government, and are growing increasingly important in recent months as the EU  and U.S. seek to reduce Tehran’s access to cash by forcing Western companies to  halt trade with Iran.

Worry: Both German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle, left, and William Hague spoke positively about the sanctions imposed at today's meeting in Luxembourg
Foreign Sec. William Hague MP

Worry: Both German Foreign Minister  Guido Westerwelle, left, and Britain’s William Hague spoke positively about the  sanctions imposed on Iran at Monday’s EU meeting in Luxembourg

Monday’s  meeting approved ‘additional restrictive measures in the financial,  trade,  energy and transport sectors’ against Iran as well as imposing  asset freezes  and trade restrictions on more companies.

Iran is  still refusing to cooperate  fully with the International Atomic Energy Agency  regarding its nuclear  programme, something the Luxembourg meeting said was ‘acting in flagrant violation of its international obligations.’

German  Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said the ministers had also banned the import  of Iranian natural gas into EU nations.

The EU  ministers also agreed to prohibit all transactions between EU and Iranian banks  unless they were authorised in advance for humanitarian reasons.

No transparency: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is still refusing to come clean about the country's nuclear programme insisting it is intended for peaceful purposesNo transparency: Iranian President  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is still refusing to come clean about the country’s nuclear  programme insisting it is intended for peaceful purposes

Financial restrictions: The EU's foreign ministers hope that the new sanctions against Iranian trade and freezing of assets will hit the Islamic nation's treasuryFinancial restrictions: The EU’s  foreign ministers hope that the new sanctions against Iranian trade and freezing  of assets will hit the Islamic nation’s treasury

They  tightened restrictions on the Central Bank of Iran and imposed more export  restrictions ‘notably for graphite, metals, software for industrial purposes, as  well as measures related to the shipbuilding industry.’

Maryam  Rajavi, president-elect of the Iranian Resistance, an organisation seeking to  oust Ahmadinejad’s regime, welcomed the decision to expand sanctions.

She  called the move ‘an essential step to preclude this regime from acquiring  nuclear weapons,’ and asked the EU to sever all economic and commercial ties  with Iran.

On his  way into Monday’s meeting, British Foreign Secretary William Hague said new  sanctions would be ‘a sign of our resolve in the European Union that we will  step up the pressure.’

Hague  said such pressure would  continue to mount ‘over the coming months unless  negotiations succeed.  We remain open of course to success of  negotiations.’

Many countries fear that Iran is working to develop nuclear weapons but  Iranian  officials say the nuclear programme is intended solely  for peaceful purposes.

Suspected site: Lavizan Shiyan, a restricted area next to a military complex in a Tehran suburb, was thought to be a possible location for weapons of mass destructionSuspected site: Lavizan Shiyan, a  restricted area next to a military complex in a Tehran suburb, was thought to be  a possible location for weapons of mass destruction

Nuclear base? An alleged facility in Natanaz, Iran, which could be targeted in any strike

Possible base: An alleged facility in  Natanaz, Iran which the regime also claims is completely harmless

The  European broadcast satellite cutoff means state broadcaster Irib’s television  channels are no longer shown in Europe and elsewhere.

Satellite  provider Eutelsat agreed with media services company Arqiva to block Irib’s nine  TV channels and ten radio stations as of Monday morning because of ‘reinforced  EU council sanctions,’ Eutelsat spokeswoman Vanessa O’Connor said.

Irib was  targeted in a round of EU sanctions against Iran adopted in March after European  officials said its broadcasts violated human rights.

Iran’s  state-run Press TV said Irib could take legal action against Eutelsat over the  cutoff ‘to compensate for any material and spiritual damages.’

Press TV  says it was among the channels cut by the Eutelsat decision. Others include  Farsi-language channels for Iranian expatriates and Arabic-language offerings,  including the news channel Al-Alam.

In a  statement, Press TV said the move ‘shows that the European Union does not  respect freedom of speech and is a step to mute all alternative news outlets  representing the voice of the voiceless.’

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