BEIRUT (AP) — The leader of Lebanon's militant Hezbollah said Monday the group has no chemical weapons but can still cause great damage to Israel if there is a war, linking his remarks to tension over Iran's nuclear program.
Sheik Hassan Nasrallah told Lebanon's Al-Mayadeen TV in a rare live interview that Iranian officials told him they will strike at Israel and U.S. military bases in the region if Israel attacks Iran's nuclear facilities.
Hezbollah has close links with Iran, which sends it money and weapons. Hezbollah retaliation against Israel after an attack on Iran is considered a significant possibility.
The U.S. and its European allies believe Iran is aiming to become a nuclear power. Iran says its program is for the peaceful purposes of producing electricity and isotopes for medical use.
Israeli leaders have indicated at an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities if they conclude that the international community has failed to halt Iran's nuclear program through sanctions and diplomacy.
"What I heard from Iranian officials ... is that the retaliation will be huge, and Iran will not forgive a strike against its nuclear facilities," Nasrallah said. "The Zionist entity (Israel) will not be the only target. American bases in the region will be targets, too."
The United States has military bases in different countries in the Gulf such as Qatar and Kuwait.
"America takes responsibility for what Israel does," he said. "Wherever they (Iranians) can strike, they will."
Nasrallah warned that in a war between Lebanon and Israel, his group has missiles that can hit targets throughout the country.
He said Hezbollah does not need chemical or nuclear weapons, "but there are targets in Israel that (if hit) can achieve the same results," an apparent reference to Israel's nuclear reactors.
Israel and Hezbollah fought an inconclusive monthlong war in 2006 that left 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis dead.
Hezbollah fired nearly 4,000 rockets at Israel during the war and is believed to have upgraded its arsenal since then.
Nasrallah refused to say how many missiles and rockets his group although in the past he said they have more than 20,000. Israel estimates the number at several times that.
Last month, Nasrallah said Hezbollah will transform the lives of Israelis to "hell" if Israel attacks Lebanon, adding that the group would not hesitate to hit targets that would leave tens of thousands of Israelis dead.
Hezbollah was created in 1982, weeks after Israel invaded Lebanon. Israel withdrew in 2000 to a border drawn by the U.N., but Lebanon says Israel still occupies a slice of its territory.