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Iran: Israel the standard bearer of Satan
President Ahmadinejad again predicts Jewish state's demise; Meanwhile, Revolutionary Guards threaten to 'punch' United States

Iran’s hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Saturday that Israel was the standard bearer of Satan and the Jewish state would soon fall apart, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported Saturday.

  

“The Zionist regime is the standard bearer of invasion, occupation and Satan,” he said, predicting Israel’s eventual demise. “When the philosophy behind the establishment of a regime is in question, it is not unlikely that it will find itself on a course of decline and dissolution.”

 

Ahmadinejad has made many anti-Israel comments in the past, the first public statement to this effect occuring during an October 2005 speech, when he said that Israel's "Zionist regime should be wiped off the map."  He has since then repeatedly predicted that Israel would disappear.

 

Recently, the Iranian president launched a controversial verbal attack on Israel when he said in early June 2007 that last year's war between Israel and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah had started a "countdown" that will end with Lebanese and Palestinian militants destroying the Jewish state.

 

Hostility against US

Meanwhile, Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards said they would not bow to pressure and threatened to "punch" the United States, in a first response to Washington's plan to list them as a terrorist organization, newspapers reported Saturday.

 

On Tuesday, an unnamed official in the Bush administration said the U.S. planned to list the Guards as terrorist group in order to squeeze Iran. Washington has accused the Guards of supporting militias and insurgent groups attacking US forces in Iraq — charges Iran denies.

 

Local press in the Iranian capital of Tehran quoted Revolutionary Guards leader Gen. Yahya Rahim Safavi saying that he could understand Washington's ire toward the group because of their "leverage" against the US.

 

"America will receive a heavier punch from the guards in the future," he was quoted as saying in the conservative daily Kayhan. "We will never remain silent in the face of US pressure and we will use our leverage against them."

 

There was no elaboration on what Safavi meant by the punch or the organization's "leverage."

 

The fact that the remarks, made on Thursday in the central Iranian city of Isfahan, appeared in local newspapers rather than the official state news outlets suggest the comments are for domestic consumption.

 

Meanwhile, other Iranian officials continued to speak out against Washington's move to register the group as a terrorist organization, with a government spokesman calling the claims "baseless," on the Web site of the state broadcasting company.

 

"The claims of the US are baseless and have no takers around the world," he said Saturday, noting that "the US has endangered the world many times under the excuse of fighting against terrorism."

 

AFP contributed to this report

 

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