An Israeli war on Iran "will eventually happen," but Israel will be destroyed as a result, the head of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards said in comments published Saturday. "War will happen but it is not certain where and when," General Mohammad Ali Jafari said, according to the ISNA and Fars news agencies.
"The shameful and cancerous tumour that is Israel is seeking war against us, but it is not known when that war will happen. They now consider war as the only way to confront us, but they are so stupid that their (US) masters should stop them," he said.
"If they begin (the aggression), it will spell their destruction and will be the end of the story," he said. "This [war] will eventually happen as the [Islamic] revolution is moving towards its goals, and they cannot tolerate this. And finally, they will impose a war situation."
The comments were the first time Iran has acknowledged the probability of open armed conflict with Israel. Previously, it had dismissed the scenario as bluff on the part of Israel's leaders.
Tensions, though, have risen significantly in recent weeks, with Israel threatening to unleash air strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities.
Israel believes Iran's nuclear programme is aimed at developing atomic weapons capability that would threaten its own existence, and its current status as the Middle East's sole, if undeclared, nuclear weapons power.
Iran insists its programme is exclusively for peaceful, civilian ends, but it is locked in a deepening standoff with the UN nuclear watchdog and the UN Security Council over the issue. Jafari said that, "Even if they (the Israelis) act rationally, this incident will happen."
He added: "Everyone knows that they cannot confront the power of the Islamic republic ... But there is no guarantee of rationality, and it is possible that they will go crazy" and attack.
He said a war with Israel would contrast with Iran's last war, the 1980-1988 conflict with Iraq that was characterised by invasion and counter-invasion by massed ground troops. "We should use the experience of the sacred defence (during the Iran-Iraq war) to prepare for the future war, because its nature will be very different from the previous war," he said.