Iran warns of painful response to attack

Country's defense minister: Mofaz's threat to attack Iran if it doesn't abandon nuke program "foolish."

Mostafa Najjar 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Mostafa Najjar 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Iran's official IRNA news agency says the country's defense minister has warned of a "painful response" if Israel attacks Iran. IRNA said Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar has called Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz's threat to attack Iran if it doesn't abandon its nuclear program "foolish." "If somebody wants to do such a foolish job, the response will be very painful," IRNA quoted Najjar as saying. Israeli defense and diplomatic officials, as well as the head of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, took Mofaz to task over the weekend for his statements. Mofaz was quoted in Friday's Yediot Aharonot, in a promotional piece for an interview, as saying, "If Iran continues its plan to develop nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The window of opportunity has closed. The sanctions are not effective. There will be no choice but to attack Iran to stop its nuclear program." Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's spokesman Mark Regev declined to respond directly to Mofaz's statement, but indicated that it did not necessarily reflect the prime minister's thinking. Meanwhile, Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the IAEA, criticized Mofaz for his comments in an interview to be published Tuesday in the German magazine Der Spiegel. "With unilateral military actions, countries are undermining international agreements, and we are at a historic turning point," ELBaradei said, referring both to Mofaz's statements and to Israel's strike on an alleged Syrian nuclear reactor in September. The nuclear watchdog chief did not spare criticism of Teheran as well, saying Iran's leaders were sending "a message to the entire world: We can build a bomb in relatively short time." Herb Keinon and staff contributed to this report.