TEHRAN (AFP) – The mere existence of Israel is contrary to Tehran’s national interests, press reports said Monday, quoting former Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Velayati, now a top advisor to Iran’s supreme leader.
“One of the elements of progress in a country is regional cooperation. Israel was created to prevent unity and cooperation between Islamic countries, that is why the existence of Israel is in contradiction with the national interests of Iran,” Velayati was quoted as saying by the conservative Ressalat newspaper.
“Today, there is a close spiritual relationship between Palestinian fighters and the Islamic republic, and this cannot be ignored,” he added, saying that the “new step in the Palestinian struggle has been influenced by the Islamic revolution and the Lebanese Hezbollah.”
Iran refuses to recognise Israel and top officials frequently call for the destruction of the Jewish state. But Tehran denies giving material support to Palestinian militants.
During a major military parade on September 22, the Islamic republic showed off six of its Shahab-3 missiles which were decorated with anti-Israeli and anti-US slogans, including one saying Israel should be “wiped off the map”.
Like the United States, Israel in turn accuses Iran of using a civil atomic energy programme as a cover to develop nuclear weapons.
There has been mounting speculation the Jewish state’s hawkish government may be considering pre-emptive strikes against Iranian nuclear installations.