Iran has deployed 150,000 missiles in Lebanon, Syria and the Gaza Strip purely for defensive purposes, said former Iranian deputy foreign minister Hossein Sheikholeslam last week.

Sheikholeslam, who has served as Iran’s ambassador to Syria, said in an Iranian television interview aired on Aug. 27 that Iran has “invested” in the “huge defensive and strategic endeavor” of deploying the vast missile arsenal, which he said can be launched at Israel at Iran’s discretion, to deter an Israeli or U.S. attack.

Since the United States has defined Israel’s national security as part of its own, he said, this strategy is Iran’s greatest deterrent against both countries, without which Israel would have certainly attacked Fordow, Bushehr and Natanz “dozens of times.”

Sheikholeslam went on to say that a ballistic missile launched from Iran would take eight minutes to reach Israel and would be detected by American and NATO radars in the region. In contrast, missiles launched from Lebanon would have begun their descent almost as soon as they were detected.

In addition, Sheikholeslam said Iran has no intention of “driving Israel into the sea” or attacking it with nuclear weapons. Rather, he said that Iran’s military capabilities are exclusively for purposes of deterrence, and that Tehran simply wants the “Zionists” to understand that they have “violated the rights of the Palestinians” and should leave the region, which should be easy because they “have citizenship in several European countries anyway.”

The following are excerpts from his speech:

“It is true that we have invested in our strategy. We are no longer doing this, but our investment was not great compared to our gain. For example, [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu and the Americans say that 150,000 Iranian missiles, which Iran has the prerogative to activate, are deployed in Lebanon, Syria and Gaza. If anything happens … this is according to what they say … we wanted them to know that we have this capability … these [missiles] will be launched by Iran’s order and will target Israel, which has an atomic bomb and is threatening us, and which is supported by America and threatening us.

“America has defined Israel’s national security as part of its own national security. These [missiles] constitute our greatest deterrence against America and Israel. True, we have to invest in that. Of course, there are others who are with us, like our dear [allies] in Hezbollah, and people among the Palestinians and in parts of Syria, as well as many Iraqis. Israel is now officially and publicly attacking the storehouses of these missiles.

[…]

”According to them, 150,000 missiles—accurate and influential missiles—have been transported there, and someone needs to demonstrate how to use them and to repeatedly restock the fuel and explosives supplies … this is a huge endeavor. We say ‘150,000 missiles,’ just like that. Netanyahu says it just like that—but this is an enormous defensive and strategic endeavor. This is the reason you are sitting here peacefully. Without this, they would have definitely attacked Fordow, Bushehr and Natanz dozens of times.

[…]

“A missile launched from Iran would take eight minutes to reach the Zionist regime. In light of the act of evil done in Turkey, where they allowed the deployment of a NATO radar in southeastern Turkey, and with the help of the radars that the Americans keep in the Persian Gulf, in the UAE, in Qatar and elsewhere where they have access to radars. … They can monitor ballistic missiles we fire at the Zionist regime, and they can react.

“But when a missile is fired parabolically from Lebanon, by the time it reaches its maximum altitude and can be monitored, the force of gravity. … When the missile is launched, it starts at the zero point and must overcome the force of gravity, and this is why its ascent is slow. But when it reaches its maximum altitude, it descends rapidly, because it is assisted by gravity. This is why these missiles are so dangerous, and this is why it is so important to [deploy them] close to the Zionist regime.

[…]

“None of us believe—as many have claimed—that we will drive Israel and the Zionists into the sea, or [use the] atomic bomb. … It’s not like that at all. Everything we have is meant for deterrence. We never want to use these means to kill people. Besides, our goal is to build people up. We want to make the Zionists understand: You have plundered the rights and the lands of the Palestinians. Now leave. You have citizenship in several European countries anyway.”

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