Israel requires the permission of the United States if it wants to carry out a strike on Iran, former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said Monday according to Iranian media.

“Israel cannot attack Iran on its own," Rafsanjani said according to Iran's semi-official Mehr news agency. "If it attacks (Iran), it must be sure that the United States will join it, either at the beginning (of the war) or during (the war). Therefore, it needs the United States’ permission.”

Relations between Jerusalem and Washington have been strained recently amidst mounting pressure by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to set clear "red lines" on the Iranian nuclear program. US President Barack Obama has refused to do so, instead opting for a strategy of implementing robust sanctions against Tehran, aimed at slowing oil exports and devaluing the rial.

Rafsanjani emphasized that "the enemies" have pinned their hopes against Iran on sanctions, which have slashed Iran's oil export earnings and have caused the rial to lose one two third of its value in just 10 days. He said that this shows the West isn't serious about a military threat, but added: "We should prepare ourselves for any eventuality."

The former Iranian president also said that Tehran is not as isolated as the West believes. "The majority of countries want to work with Iran," he said. "Our neighbors in the south and the north had been cooperating with us."

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Obama's Middle East policy came under heavy attack on Monday from US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, who said the US president was deliberately putting daylight between Israel and the US. “Iran today has never been closer to a nuclear weapons capability,” Romney said. “And it has never acted less deterred by America.”

Rafsanjani's comments also came at the heels of remarks by Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, who on Monday dismissed the prospect of an Israeli strike on Iran in an interview with Germany's Der Spiegel. "If the Israelis had wanted to attack us, and if they could have done so, they would have done so long ago," he said.

Former chief of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Mohsen Rezaei also said Monday that Israel was not serious about military threats on Iran. "Of course the Zionists wouldn't dare invade Iran and only speak of war to win concessions from the next US president,” he said according to Iran's Press TV. He added that Israel would love at least 10,000 citizens in the event of an Israeli military strike on the Islamic Republic.

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