Iran could strike US bases ifIsrael attacks: HezbollahBy Laila BassamBEIRUT | Mon Sep 3, 2012 6:35pm EDT(Reuters) - Iran could hit U.S. bases in the Middle East in response to any Israeli strike onits nuclear facilities even if American forces played no role in the attack, the leader ofLebanon’s Iranian-backed militant group Hezbollah said on Monday.“A decision has been taken to respond and the response will be very great,” HezbollahSecretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said in an interview with the Beirut-based AlMayadeen television.“The response will not be just inside the Israeli entity – American bases in the wholeregion could be Iranian targets,” he said, citing information he said was from Iranianofficials. “If Israel targets Iran, America bears responsibility.”
Heightened Israeli rhetoric about Tehran’s nuclear facilities, which the West says couldbe part of a weapons program, has stoked speculation that it may attack Iran before U.S.elections in November.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged world powers on Sunday to set a “clear redline” to convince Iran they would prevent it from obtaining nuclear arms.Israel, thought to be the Middle East’s only nuclear-armed power, views Iran’s nuclearprogram as a threat to its regional dominance and to its very existence. Tehran says theatomic work is for peaceful purposes only.But Netanyahu’s cabinet is divided over the wisdom of attacking Iran, and Israeli officialshave dropped heavy hints of a climbdown strategy, under which Netanyahu would shelvethreats of an attack now in return for a stronger public pledge from President BarackObama on conditions that would provoke U.S. action in future.Nasrallah said there were divisions in Israel over attacking Iran. “Personally I do notexpect the Israeli enemy – at least in the coming months or foreseeable future – (towage) an attack on the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said.Nasrallah pointed to the fragile global economy, which would be weakened further byany sharp rise in crude oil prices stemming from conflict in the Gulf, and to likely Israelicasualties in any war with Iran.“Netanyahu and (Defence Minister Ehud) Barak inflate the benefit and play down thecost,” he said, referring to Barak’s estimates that Israel could suffer up to 500 fatalitiesin any conflict aimed at wiping out Iran’s nuclear facilities.Hezbollah guerrillas fought a 34-day war with Israel six years ago in which 1,200 peoplein Lebanon, mostly civilians, and 160 people in Israel, mostly soldiers, were killed.War with Iran would be more deadly, Nasrallah said. “We don’t know what will happen inthe region.”NO CHEMICAL WEAPONSHe repeated a warning he made last month that Hezbollah could cause widespreaddestruction if it came into conflict with Israel again, but denied that the Shi’ite Islamistguerrilla and political movement would ever use chemical weapons.
“We do not have chemical weapons and we will not use chemical weapons,” Nasrallahsaid. “The use of chemical weapons is forbidden – for us that is absolute.Unrest in neighboring Syria, which acknowledged for the first time in July that itpossessed chemical or biological weapons, has led to Western fears that those weaponsmight fall into the hands of Islamist groups including Hezbollah.“I do not need chemical weapons – regardless of the religious or practical position,”Nasrallah said, addressing Israel. “You have factories, and you have bases, andcompounds, and I have rockets.”Israel had several “weak points” which could be targeted, including “economic,industrial, electrical, chemical and nuclear” sites, the Hezbollah leader said.Even if Israel launched a first strike attack on Lebanon, destroying a large part ofHezbollah’s missile arsenal, the militant group would retain the capacity to hit back withdeadly force, he added.Two weeks ago Nasrallah said Hezbollah could kill tens of thousands of Israelis byhitting targets with what he described as precision-guided missiles.“Hitting these targets with a small number of rockets will turn … the lives of hundredsof thousands of Zionists to real hell,” he said at the time.(Writing by Dominic Evans; Editing by Alison Williams)