Israel and the US are the greatest threat to the Middle East, but Iran has the power to deter them, Iranian Defense Minister Brig.-Gen. Hossein Dehqan said on Wednesday.Dehqan's comments came amid heated rhetoric between US President Donald Trump and the leadership of Iran, which last week carried out a ballistic missile test that the US administration saw as a provocation. After Trump said last week that Iran had been put "on notice," Dehqan was quoted by Iran's semi-official Fars News Agency as replying, "We don’t consider the regional countries as a threat, and the main threats are the US and the Zionist regime and we are preparing ourselves in conjunction with these threats. Of course, today we are enjoying a (high) level of deterrence."
Dehqan suggested that Israel is too busy with its conflict with the Palestinians to serve as a realistic threat to Iran."Israel today is confined to the occupied territories and doesn’t dare to act against its neighbors," Fars quoted him as saying.“The existence of this regime in the region is a destabilizing factor, and any individual with human senses would reject Israel’s savage behavior,” Iran's Tasnim News Agency quoted Dehqan as saying.Dehqan accused Israel, along with the US and the Gulf states of backing terrorist groups in the region.On Tuesday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei dismissed Trump's sabre-rattling on Iran's missile tests, calling on Iranians to take part in demonstrations on Friday, the anniversary of Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, to show they were not frightened of American "threats.""We are thankful to (Trump) for making our life easy as he showed the real face of America," Khamenei told a meeting of military commanders in Tehran, according to his website.Trump responded to a Jan. 29 Iranian missile test by saying "Iran is playing with fire" and imposed fresh sanctions on individuals and entities, some of them linked to Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards.The White House said the missile test was not a direct breach of Iran's 2015 nuclear pact with six world powers, but that it "violates the spirit of that."When asked about Khamenei's comments on Tuesday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Iran must recognize that the United States is under new leadership."This president is not going to sit by and let Iran flout its violations or apparent violations to the joint agreement," Spicer said at a briefing. "I think Iran is kidding itself if they don't realize there's a new president in town."Reuters contributed to this report.
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