Iranian nuclear power plant
Workers stand in front of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, October 2010 REUTERS

Tehran's top military commander has stated that a war between Israel and Iran is inevitable.

General Mohammed Ali Jafari, the chief of Iran's Revolutionary Guard, said that Israel will one day attack Iran, which will then respond and wipe out its age-old adversary.

"War will happen but it is not certain where and when," Jafari said. "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," said Jafari, according to the country's Fars news agency.

This is the first time an Iranian leader has openly conceded that armed confrontation between the countries is inevitable. Iran once dismissed similar remarks made by Israeli leaders with derision.

Jafari's comments come at a time of growing tension between the two countries over Tehran's alleged nuclear programme. Israel is growing impatient and has threatened to launch aerial strikes against Tehran.

Breathing more fire, Jafari said: "If they begin (aggression), it will spell their destruction and will be the end of the story. 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."

Israeli and Iranian leaders are locking horns at every possible forum. At a recent IAEA gathering, Israeli envoy Ehud Azoulay insisted that Iran and Syria are "the most significant threats to the nuclear non-proliferation regime".

He accused the two countries of using their NPT [Non-Proliferation Treaty] membership as a cloak to pursue the development of nuclear weapons.

Azoulay said: "It is Iran which represents the greatest threat to peace and security in the Middle East and beyond. No words in this room could distort the real facts behind Iran's drive to nuclear weapons."