Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki on Monday referred to Israel
as "a mad nation led by insane people".
In an interview to the al-Jazeera network, Mottaki said that the Islamic Republic was not taking the Jewish state's threats to launch a military attack on its nuclear facilities seriously, but stressed that Tehran must be prepared for an Israeli attack.
According to the Iranian minister, "The Zionist regime in the region is in its weakest position in three years. This is the first time we see this regime facing two different and important defeats in our region, and this is the seventh time the Israeli forces have tried to enter Lebanon
and force a war on the country."
Addressing the regional situation, Mottaki said that Israel "is facing a political crisis. Following the Goldstone Report,
the Zionist regime cannot engage in any other aggression."
According to the foreign minister, "Iran
is facing a mad nation led by insane people. This is the reason why all of us in the region – in Syria,
in Lebanon, and the Palestinians – must be prepared constantly for any crazy operation against us."
Mottaki added, "Iran does not see any option for the Israeli regime to carry out attacks, as they are aware of the response which will come from Iran."
Asked about the possibility of the United States attacking his country, he replied, "The US tried twice, during President Bush's term, to strike in Afghanistan and in Iraq, but failed to reach its destination, both in Iraq and in Afghanistan. We see that the Americans are facing very difficult conditions in Afghanistan, and we believe they have no real and realistic strategy."
He was also asked about Iran's response in event of an Israeli attack on its nuclear facilities. "Iran is always prepared to defend itself, but we don't see such an option. Iran wants to stress to its neighbors in the region that no one will be able to do anything against it."
Syrian President Bashar Assad
slammed the Israeli leadership recently as well. "(The Israelis) are like children fighting each other, messing with the country; they do not know what to do," he said in an interview
to the New Yorker magazine.
Earlier Monday, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner insisted
that Iran does not have the capacity to enrich uranium to 20%, as the Islamic Republic had declared
Sunday, and accused Tehran of "blackmail."
The Iranians "do not know how to make fuel" for their existing medical reactor, he told reporters at a meeting in Paris. "For what purposes do they want to enrich it to 20%?" he demanded.
French Defense Minister Herve Morin warned after talks in Paris with his United States counterpart Robert Gates that the US and France would push for new UN sanctions against Iran.
The Islamic Republic said Monday it had formally notified the UN nuclear watchdog of its plan to produce higher enriched uranium.
"Iran's official letter about commencing the 20% enrichment activity in order to provide fuel for the Tehran reactor has been handed over to the IAEA," Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Tehran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, told state-owned Arabic-language al-Alam television from Vienna.
AFP contributed to this report