Jerusalem, May 21 – Only days before it faces the world’s leading powers who are trying to thwart Iranian efforts to obtain nuclear weapons, Iran’s top military commander said his nation’s goal is “the full annihilation of Israel.”
Chief of staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Hassan Firouzabadi, elaborated that “the Iranian nation will remain committed to the full annihilation of the Zionist regime of Israel to the end,” the FARS news agency reported on its website.
Previous statements in the Farsi language by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Israel must be “wiped off the map” have been questioned by those who challenged the translation and suggested that Iranian leaders were talking metaphorically. However, the statement by Firouzabadi, the head of Iran’s military, is an unequivocal confirmation of the intentions of Iran’s leaders to wage war against Israel with the goal of destroying the Jewish state.
The organization Reporters Without Borders ranks Iran as having one of the lowest levels of press freedom in the world, saying “the regime feeds on persecution of the media.” Reporters and bloggers are routinely jailed for challenging the Islamic regime, ensuring only government approved material is printed or appears on Iranian news websites like FARS.
Iran is under severe international economic and trade sanctions for its refusal to abide by repeated United Nations resolutions demanding it halt its nuclear development program, widely believed to be aimed at obtaining nuclear weapons.
The world’s top powers are scheduled to meet with Iran in Bagdad on May 23 in another attempt to force Iran to comply with multiple U. N. Security Council resolutions. Diplomats from China, Russia, France, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. will negotiate with Iran, which claims its nuclear program is peaceful. However, Iran continues to refuse to allow International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to inspect its top-secret nuclear installations to confirm the claim.