In the aftermath of the Netanyahu-Trump press conference two days ago, Iran was apoplectic. Its foreign ministry all but ran to its press, claiming nothing but peaceful intent in all its conduct. Then it named Israel as the world's "biggest threat."
Tasnim News Agency, purportedly a private entity, carried the report. Based in Tehran, Tasnim says its "top agenda" begins with "defending the Islamic Revolution against negative media propoganda."
Accordingly, on Thursday, it ran the story of Iran's official reaction to the Netanyahu-Trump warning about the Islamic Republic. The mouthpiece for the mullah-run state was Bahram Qassemi, a spokesman for the country's foreign ministry.
Labelling warnings about Iran from Trump and Netanyahu as "bogus" and "unworthy," he claimed that nothing less that the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA, has "confirmed the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear activities."
Well, not quite. In online reports from 2003 to the present, the agency has consistently claimed that, in violation of international prohibitions, Iran has aggressively pursued the development weapons-grade nuclear fuel and technology. Affirming this reality in its 2015 "final assessment" of Iran's nuclear program, it also concluded, rather awkwardly, that it found "found no credible indications of the diversion of nuclear material in connection with the possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program."
While allowing the West to proceed with a deal with Iran, the statement was clever. It did not deny that Iran has a military nuclear program. Instead, it said there was no evidence that Iran's weapons-grade "nuclear material" had been "diverted" to the country's military nuclear program.
Claiming vindication of its "peaceful nature" by the IAEA, Qassemi immediately rounded on Israel. Refusing to name the Jewish State, as Iran always does, he referred to it as a "regime." The unsaid but assumed adjective was "Zionist," as in "Zionist regime."
"The bitter irony," Qassemi asserted, "is that such baseless allegations are raised by a regime that is not committed to any international regulations and constitutes the biggest threat to regional and international peace and security by possessing hundreds of nuclear warheads in its arsenal."
Hours later, the reclusive head of Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based terror organization and so-called "party of Allah," joined in condemning Israel.
Notably, Tasnim carried this story too.
"I call upon Israel ...to dismantle [its] Dimona nuclear facility," Sayed Hassan Nasrallah said, shaking an index finger. Dimona is the location of a nuclear power plant in southern Israel. It is also the well-known but official location of Israel's nuclear weapons development. Officially, Israel refuses to admit or deny it posses nuclear weapons. Its ambiguous statement that it will not be the first to "introduce" them to the Middle East is a technicality that some regard as its having the parts to assemble nuclear weapons in a matter of minutes.
Nasrallah, a known puppet of Iran, did not just "call upon" Israel, he threatened it.
Israel would be "surprised," he said, "by what we are hiding that would change the course of any war."
In fact, his organization is armed to the teeth with as many as 150,000 missiles, many of them with Iranian technology for range and accuracy. According to Israel's own military assessement, when Hezbollah launches an attack against Israel, it will take two weeks for Jerusalem to stop the assault. During those two weeks, Hezbollah is expected to fire as many as 1,500 missiles a day, some of which would not be intercepted, killing thousands of Israelis.
If the Iran-Hezbollah response to Trump and Netanyahu is saber-rattling, Israel knows it is far more than clanging swords that are making the noise, in such a time as this.