TEHRAN, Iran – Iran's Foreign Ministry said Sunday that his country's Revolutionary Guards would strongly and immediately respond to any Israeli attack as hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad harshly criticized the U.N. Security Council over its efforts to impose sanctions because of Tehran's controversial nuclear program.
"If the Zionist regime commits such stupidity, the response by the Iranian military will be swift, strong and crushing," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammed Ali Hosseini said. "Iran will take no longer than a second to respond."
Israeli officials have commented recently that the country's military would consider bombing Iranian nuclear facilities to thwart what it has described as an Iranian nuclear weapons program. Iran says its plans aim to generate electricity.
Israel bombed Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981 to destroy former President Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons program. While Israel neither acknowledges nor denies possessing nuclear arms, it is thought to have about 100-200 nuclear warheads, according to a 2006 by the Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies.
Hosseini downplayed the possibility of such an attack, suggesting that Israeli bluster stemmed from the current government's "very fragile" political situation.
"The situation and capability of the Zionist regime are far too small to threaten Iran," Hosseini said.
Ahmadinejad, meanwhile, repeated his criticism of the U.N. Security Council over its efforts to impose sanctions on Iran because of its nuclear program.
"It is most embarrassing that the U.N Security Council, which should be the defender of nations' security and rights, threatens countries pursuing nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes under the law," Ahmadinejad said, addressing the general assembly of Asian Parliaments Association for Peace in the capital Tehran.
He criticized the U.N. for applying a double standard, saying that it was pursuing Iran, "while those countries, armed with nuclear weapons, deny the rights of other countries to produce nuclear fuel and exploit it for peaceful purposes."
Ahmadinejad made the comments following a meeting Saturday in Moscow between Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Russia is urging the resumption of international talks on Iran's nuclear program. Although Moscow, along with China, have agreed in principle on sanctions, both have publicly pushed for dialogue instead of punitive measures.
Both countries have major commercial ties with Iran and can veto U.N. Security Council resolutions as permanent members.
Ahmadinejad also criticized the United Nations for what he described as its lack of concern for the Palestinians.
"While this fake regime commits crimes, the U.N. has not taken a single positive and operative step to restore the rights of the Palestinian nation," he said.
Ahmadinejad condemned the United States for vetoing a U.N. Security Council draft resolution that criticized an Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip.
Palestinians strengthened calls for Security Council action after an early morning Israeli artillery barrage in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun killed 18 people last week.
The U.S., which also is one of five permanent members of the council, has the power to veto resolutions.
Hosseini, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, also said that Iran began installing an additional 3,000 centrifuges, with the knowledge of the IAEA, the international nuclear watchdog.
In October, Iran stepped up uranium enrichment by injecting gas into a second network of 164 centrifuges. Iran produced a small batch of low-enriched uranium — suitable as nuclear fuel but not weapons grade — in February, using its initial cascade of 164 centrifuges at its pilot plant at Natanz.
Earlier this year Tehran said it plans to install 3,000 centrifuges at Natanz by year's end, but it would take 54,000 centrifuges to fuel a reactor.