Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday he sees no possibility of a war with the U.S. or Israel.
“I assure you that there won't be any war in the future,” he told a news conference during a visit to Malaysia for a summit of developing Muslim nations.
The comments came less than 24 hours after Iran's Revolutionary Guards announced its forces were carrying out a military drill involving “missile squads” and warned that the country would retaliate against any military strike by targeting Tel Aviv and U.S. warships in the Gulf.
Iranian officials have been issuing a mix of conciliatory and bellicose statements in recent weeks on the possibility of a clash with the U.S. and Israel.
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Ahmadinejad also predicted Israel would collapse without Iranian action.
The Israelis “are a complex political group, but you should know this regime will be eventually destroyed and there is no need of any measure by Iranian people,” he said when asked whether he has called for the destruction of Israel.
Ahmadinejad has in the past called for Israel's elimination. But his exact remarks have been disputed. Some translators say he called for Israel to be “wiped off the map,” but others say that would be better translated as “vanish from the pages of time” – implying Israel would disappear on its own.
Ahmadinejad also said Tuesday the next U.S. administration “would need at least 30 years in order to compensate, renovate and innovate the damages done by Mr. Bush.”
For months, Ahmadinejad and other Iranian officials have said they don't believe the U.S. will attack because of its difficulties in Iraq, domestic worries and concerns over fallout in the region. At the same time, Tehran has stepped up its warnings of retaliation if the Americans – or Israelis – do attack it, including threats to hit Israel and U.S. Gulf bases with missiles and stop oil traffic through the vital Gulf region.
The Web site of the elite Iranian force posted a statement Monday quoting guard official Ali Shirazi as saying Iran would retaliate against any military strike by targeting Tel Aviv and U.S. warships in the Gulf. “The Zionist regime is pushing the White House to prepare for a military strike on Iran,” he was quoted as saying.
“If such a stupidity is done by them, Tel Aviv and the U.S. naval fleet in the Persian Gulf will be the first targets which will be set on fire in Iran's crushing response.”
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said Shirazi's “words speak for themselves.”
State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos called such statements from Iran “unfortunately … not out of the norm.”
“We continue to stress our desire to resolve this issue diplomatically,” Gallegos added.