As Rouhani Prepares to Address UN, Iran’s Military Threatens to Turn Israeli Cities to ‘Dust’

By Patrick Goodenough | September 22, 2016 | 4:32am EDT
Zolfaqar missiles are displayed at one of several military parades in Iran on Wednesday, September 21, 2016. The slogan on the banner on the truck has been translated as 'If the leaders of the Zionist regime make a mistake then the Islamic Republic will turn Tel Aviv and Haifa to dust.' (Photo: Tasnim news agency)

( – On the eve of Iranian President Hasan Rouhani’s address to the United Nations, military parades back home Wednesday featured ballistic missiles on a truck draped with a banner threatening to turn a fellow U.N. member state’s cities to “dust.”

“If the leaders of the Zionist regime make a mistake then the Islamic Republic will turn Tel Aviv and Haifa to dust,” read the banner, according to Reuters.

Iranian media outlets including state-run Al-Alam TV and Tehran Times published multiple images of the Zolfaqar missiles and the banner.

The Fars news agency, affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), quoted IRGC aerospace force commander Brig. Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh as saying the Zolfaqar was capable of hitting targets up to 466 miles (750 kms) “with a zero margin of error.” Tel Aviv lies roughly 650 miles from the nearest Iranian territory.

Another ballistic missile on display in Wednesday’s parades, however, the liquid-fueled Qadr, boasts a range of up to 1,240 miles (2,000 kms), potentially threatening Israel, Saudi Arabia, U.S.  forces in the Gulf, and south-eastern Europe.

Also on display was the Russian-supplied S-300 surface-to-air missile defense system, which Iran recently deployed at a key underground nuclear facility.

The parades – near the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran, and in other locations – were held to mark the beginning of “Sacred Defense Week,” commemorating the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.

Iran has used military displays before to send propaganda messages to its people and its foes. Last March it test-fired a Qadr missile, engraved with the words, in Hebrew, “Israel should be wiped from the earth.”

The unveiling earlier this month of a new IRGC Navy vessel was accompanied by a message advising the U.S. Navy to “go to the Bay of Pigs; the Persian Gulf is our home.”

In a speech at the Tehran parade – delivered in the place of Rouhani, who is at the U.N. – armed forces chief of staff head Maj. Gen. Mohammad Hossein Baqeri said Iran’s military capabilities are designed to give a “timely response to the enemy threats.”

Baqeri said Iran’s enemies fear its power. The ultimate goal of the U.S., the “Zionist regime” and their supporters in launching proxy wars in the region, he said, “is to destroy the infrastructure of Muslim states.”

Baqeri also said that “military tests and maneuvers will continue as scheduled, and will not be suspended or postponed under any circumstances,” possibility alluding to Western unhappiness about an escalation in missile tests since the nuclear agreement was concluded a year ago.

Meanwhile in New York, Rouhani has been holding a series of bilateral meetings with mostly European leaders on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly session. At several of the meetings, including one with French President Francois Hollande, the Iranian president pledged to cooperate with Europe in the fight against terrorism, describing Iran as one of the “main victims” of terrorism.

Meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Rouhani described Iran as “the region’s defense line against terrorism and Daesh [ISIS].”

The U.S. State Department says Iran remains the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism.

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