Iran rang in the Persian new year Tuesday with a speech broadcast on live television by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Thousands jammed the Imam Reza mosque complex in the city of Mashad to hear the nation's supreme leader and welcome in the Persian year 1391. Khamenei announced the name of the new year as the year of “National Production, Supporting Iranian Capital and Labor.”
Khamenei said that “we will attack” if the U.S. or Israel attacks the country’s nuclear program. Khamenei denied having nuclear weapons and vowed not to build them, but said Iran will absolutely retaliate “in the face of aggression from enemies, whether from America or the Zionist regime ...” He added that the U.S. is “making a grave mistake” if they think threatening to impose sanctions “will destroy the Iranian nation.”
Earlier today, the New York Times reported that a classified Pentagon two-week war game this month predicted that an Israeli attack on Iran would likely draw the United States into a wider regional war in which hundreds of Americans would be killed.
The war game has "raised fears among top American planners that it may be impossible to preclude American involvement in any escalating confrontation with Iran," the Times wrote.
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The Associated Press reports:
Tehran will retaliate against any attack by Israeli or American forces "on the same level," Iran's top leader said Tuesday [...]
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, speaking on state TV to mark the Iranian new year, repeated his claims that the country does not seek atomic weapons, but said all of Iran's conventional firepower was ready to respond to any attack.
"We do not have atomic weapons and we will not build one. But against an attack by enemies — to defend ourselves either against the U.S. or Zionist regime — we will attack them on the same level that they attack us," he said, using the term Iranian authorities often use for Israel.
Despite the hard-edged tone for most of the speech, there were hints of overtures toward America before a possible resumption of nuclear talks between Iran and world powers. He urged the U.S. to have a "respectful attitude" toward Iran — suggesting it could bring dividends.
Earlier this month, Khamenei gave a rare nod of approval to Washington after Obama said he favored diplomacy to resolve the nuclear dispute. [...]
In his televised speech, Khamenei claimed the West seeks only to dominate Iran's oil exports, the second largest in OPEC behind Saudi Arabia.
"If Iran was ready to surrender before them, as some countries in the region, they would not have any hostility toward Iran," said Khamenei.
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The New York Times reports:
U.S. War Game Sees Perils of Israeli Strike Against Iran
A classified war simulation held this month to assess the repercussions of an Israeli attack on Iran forecasts that the strike would lead to a wider regional war, which could draw in the United States and leave hundreds of Americans dead, according to American officials. [...]
The results may give stronger voice to those in the White House, Pentagon and intelligence community who have warned that a strike could prove perilous for the United States.But the game has raised fears among top American planners that it may be impossible to preclude American involvement in any escalating confrontation with Iran, the officials said. In the debate among policy makers over the consequences of any Israeli attack, that reaction may give stronger voice to those in the White House, Pentagon and intelligence community who have warned that a strike could prove perilous for the United States.
The results of the war game were particularly troubling to Gen. James N. Mattis, who commands all American forces in the Middle East, Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia, according to officials who either participated in the Central Command exercise or who were briefed on the results and spoke on condition of anonymity because of its classified nature. When the exercise had concluded earlier this month, according to the officials, General Mattis told aides that an Israeli first strike would be likely to have dire consequences across the region and for United States forces there.
The two-week war game, called Internal Look, played out a narrative in which the United States found it was pulled into the conflict after Iranian missiles struck a Navy warship in the Persian Gulf, killing about 200 Americans, according to officials with knowledge of the exercise. The United States then retaliated by carrying out its own strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.
The initial Israeli attack was assessed to have set back the Iranian nuclear program by roughly a year, and the subsequent American strikes did not slow the Iranian nuclear program by more than an additional two years. However, other Pentagon planners have said that America’s arsenal of long-range bombers, refueling aircraft and precision missiles could do far more damage to the Iranian nuclear program — if President Obama were to decide on a full-scale retaliation.
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