A senior Iranian official slammed Monday statements by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden that Israel has a sovereign right to decide what is in its best interest in dealing with Iran’s nuclear ambitions and said Tehran would respond "in a very full-scale and very decisive way" if attacked.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has signaled his agreement with U.S. President Barack Obama’s end-of-the-year deadline for progress in efforts to engage Iran diplomatically to resolve dispute over its nuclear program.
In an interview on ABC’s "This Week" Sunday interview program, Biden said Israel can determine for itself how best to deal with the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran.
"We cannot dictate to another sovereign nation what they can and cannot do when they make a determination, if they make a determination, that they’re existentially threatened," Biden said.
Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Danny Ayalon, said neither the U.S. nor Israel could allow Iran to gain a nuclear weapon.
"The U.S., like Israel … has determined unequivocally that Iran must not have nuclear military capability," Ayalon told Israel’s Army Radio.
"A military operation in Iran is something difficult and complex and perhaps would have severe consequences and there could be serious damage, but this is much less dangerous and complicated than to allow a nuclear Iran," he said.
Meanwhile, in response to Biden’s comments an Iranian official speaking in Japan hours after the U.S. broadcast the interview, said Israel would be making a big mistake if it attacked the Islamic Republic.
"I think that America and Israel are fully aware what kind of result such a wrong judgment will entail," Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, said in Tokyo.
"Israel showed its military power sufficiently in the 22-day war" in the Gaza Strip earlier this year, he told reporters. "That kind of erroneous judgment poses a threat to the entire Middle Eastern region and the world."
He added: "If (an Israeli attack) occurred, then the Islamic Republic of Iran will respond in a very full-scale and very decisive way."
Netanyahu, who took office in March, has said Israel cannot allow Tehran to acquire nuclear weapons and has not ruled out a possible military strike against Iran.
Israel, which is the only nuclear power in the Middle East, has said a nuclear-armed Iran would be a threat to its existence. Iran denies it is enriching uranium for military purposes, saying its nuclear development is aimed at generating electricity.
Israel bombed a site in Syria in 2007 that U.S. intelligence officials said was a nearly completed nuclear reactor being built with North Korean help. In 1981, Israel bombed an Iraqi nuclear reactor.
"If the Netanyahu government decides to take a course of action different than the one being pursued now, that is their sovereign right to do that. That is not our choice," Biden said. "But there is no pressure from any nation that’s going to alter our behavior as to how to proceed."
Similarly, Israel said it had never asked for Washington’s permission for operations or strategic policy.
"Of course, as allies we coordinate things and we make joint assessments but there should be no confusion, we do what is right and good for us according to our own estimates," Ayalon said.
Israel’s Mossad intelligence chief Meir Dagan said last month a world embargo had altered the course of Tehran’s nuclear program since 2003, but that Iran could have an atomic weapon by 2014 unless these steps were intensified.