Mohammad Ali Jafari

The head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps said that armed conflict with Israel appears to be in the picture and warned: “We must all be prepared for war.”

In a report on ISNA, Commander Jafari stressed that Israel’s “threats and enmity” against Iran should be taken seriously and they will “eventually result in physical conflict.”

This is the first time that a senior Iranian military official has described Israeli threats as serious and spoken of the possibility of military engagement.

At a press conference in Tehran, Jafari was quoted as saying: “This stain of shame and cancerous tumour that is Israel wants to get into war with us, but we do not know when it will begin… Right now they have decided that the only way to confront us is through war, and they are so stupid that their masters should try and stop them."

Israeli threats about mounting an attack on Iran have become sharper in recent weeks, while the United States has called for more time to resolve nuclear disputes with Iran through diplomatic channels as the sanctions against Iran take deeper effect.

“We must prepare ourselves for a war that will be different in nature from the [Iran-Iraq] eight-year war and we must adapt ourselves to the demands of the future war that is ahead of us,” Jafari was quoted as saying by the Mehr News Agency.

The head of the IRGC said: “We must use our experiences from the sacred war while preparing for the future war.”

Iran insists that its nuclear program is peaceful, but Israel, the Middle East’s only nuclear power if also an undeclared one, says it will not tolerate Iran even developing the capability to produce nuclear weapons. Iran’s uranium enrichment program is essential for providing fuel for its nuclear reactors but technically it could also be geared toward arms production.

Iranian officials have accused Israel of sabotaging its nuclear facilities and assassinating its nuclear scientists. They allege that the IAEA inspections of its facilities have been exploited to carry out terrorist operations against its nuclear program.

The IAEA has not been able to find any evidence that Iran’s nuclear activities have a military component, but in recent months it has called for permission to inspect the Parchin Military Base, which Islamic Republic authorities have denied. Iran says the base is not a nuclear facility and it cannot be opened to inspection unless the IAEA presents concrete evidence to establish its suspicions.