The new chief commander of Iran’s Army has said that Israel will cease to exist within the next 25 years, the Iranian media reported. Speaking at a cultural event in the holy city of Qom on Thursday, Major General Abdolrahim Mousavi praised “acts of devotion” of Iranians killed during the 1980s Iran-Iraq war as well as those killed in Iraq and Syria in recent years. He particularly spoke about Mohsen Hojjaji, a member of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (I.R.G.C.) who was recently decapitated by Islamic State fighters along the Syrian-Iraqi border. “As a result of the determination of holy warriors such as martyred Hojjaji, the Zionist regime will not exist in 25 years,” he added. Mousavi, who was recently appointed by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei as the commander of Iran’s Army, further stressed that the “martyrdom-seeking and jihadi spirit of the Iranian people” has made it impossible for the United States and its allies to militarily attack Iran. But he cautioned that if any country launches a war against Iran, it will be the Islamic Republic that will determine how and when the war will end.  

Comment: It is not the first time that an Iranian official has predicted or called for the annihilation of the state of Israel. Khamenei, former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and other senior Iranian political and military leaders have made similar remarks in the past. “Today, the primary and religious duty of Muslims is to liberate Jerusalem and to destroy the cancerous seed of evil Zionism,” then Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan said in February. He further noted that the Islamic Republic had increased the range, precision and longevity of its ballistic missiles and will continue to increase its defensive power, Dehghan said.

Iranian leaders’ call for the destruction of Israel also discredits Iranian diplomats’ claim that their country’s missiles are only for defensive purposes and do not pose any threat to regional countries. The Islamic Republic’s Sejjil missile with a range of about 1240 miles and its medium-range Shahab-3 can both reach Israel. When Iran test-fired ballistic missiles in 2016, one had “Israel should be wiped off the Earth” inscribed on it in Hebrew. The move prompted the U.S. Treasury to slap new financial sanctions on Iranian entities involved in the country’s ballistic missile work.