If Israel had plans to attack Iran then the Jewish state would have done so already, Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said in an interview with Germany's Der Spiegel published Monday.
When asked about the "red line" on Iran's nuclear program delineated by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in his recent speech to the UN General Assembly, Salehi dismissed the Israeli leader's presentation as "bizarre," saying it was "childish to hold up a caricature of a bomb."
Salehi added that "if the Israelis had wanted to attack us, and if they could have done so, they would have done so long ago. In 1981, they destroyed an Iraqi reactor without warning, but they have been threatening us for years, on every occasion and publicly."
Salehi warned that Israel "knows what would happen if they attacked... Aggressors will pay a high price."
Responding to a question regarding the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program, as outlined by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in its August report, Salehi insisted that Tehran has a right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes and that "there is no proof that we are pursuing nuclear research for military purposes."
He also sidestepped questions regarding Iran's refusal to allow the IAEA to inspect the Parchin military complex, at which suspected nuclear-related experiments were conducted.
With respect to sanctions, Salehi downplayed their effects as a mere "inconvenience." Despite the rial having lost approximately two thirds of its value relative to the dollar in the past year, Salehi described international sanctions as "not a big deal."
"For over 30 years now, we have been living with boycott measures that ultimately make us independent and strong," Salehi concluded.
'Israeli death toll no less than 10,000 if it attacks Iran'
A senior Iranian official said Sunday that at least 10,000 Israelis would be killed in the event of an Israeli military strike on the Islamic Republic of Iran.
“If the Israelis attack, Iran’s deterrent power would deal a mortal blow to them and the Israeli death toll would not be less than 10,000. Therefore, they would be stopped soon,” Press TV quoted Mohsen Rezaei, former chief of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps as saying.
“We don’t want war, but are fully prepared to defend our country against any strike. Of course the Zionists wouldn't dare invade Iran and only speak of war to win concessions from the next US president,” Rezaei told a group of Iranian students in London in a video conference program.
Rezaei added that Western efforts are attempting to "divert the Islamic Awakening" towards seeking a Western-style democracy by toppling the Syrian government.
“As far as the regional revolutions are concerned, one should not imagine that they are limited to regimes change in Libya and Egypt, because it is only the beginning,” Rezaei stated.
However, the Wall Street Journal recently reported that the protests in Iran linked to the country's weakening currency are causing Israeli officials to reconsider the likelihood of a strike against Iranian nuclear targets in the coming months.
According to the Journal, the protests have raised hopes in Israel that international sanctions are working to undermine Tehran.
The Journal quoted an Israeli official as saying, "everything has changed" since the outbreak of the demonstrations on Wednesday. "You can't say now that the sanctions are having no impact at all. It is self-evident.''
Netanyahu has said that, although sanctions are taking their toll, they are not yet forcing Iran to abandon work that could soon lead to a nuclear warhead.
Yet Israeli officials appear increasingly ready to acknowledge the effect of recent American and European sanctions designed to restrict Iran's lifeline oil exports.