Tehran appears to be heightening tensions with Israel. Hossein Salami, deputy commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), recently said: “Hezbollah has 100,000 missiles that are ready to hit Israel to liberate the occupied Palestinian territories if the Zionist regime repeats its past mistakes.”
He added: “Today, the grounds for the annihilation and collapse of the Zionist regime are [present] more than ever.” Salami warned that if Israel made the “wrong move,” it would come under attack.
A few weeks ago, a senior adviser to the IRGC’s elite Quds Force, Ahmad Karimpour, said Iran could destroy Israel “in less than eight minutes” if Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei gave the order.
There are several reasons why Iran’s repeated anti-Israel statements may be pure rhetoric. They are most likely meant as a type of psychological warfare, because Iran cannot afford direct conflict with Israel. Although Iran is larger geographically and in terms of population, its military capacity is inferior. Even regarding missile capabilities, which Iranian generals boast about, Israel’s are greater in range and number.
What fundamentally changes the balance of power is Israel’s nuclear capacity. It is widely believed to have some 200 nuclear warheads that can be used with intercontinental ballistic missiles, as well as nuclear-armed submarines.