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Tehran warns Israel on making ‘tiniest move’ against Iran

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi Monday warned that Israel will be targeted by his country’s armed forces if it makes “the tiniest move” against Iran.

He spoke as talks stalled in Vienna over a deal to rein in Iran’s nuclear capabilities, which Tehran says are used for peaceful purposes. Israel opposes a deal, saying it does not do enough to curb Iran’s nuclear program or its military activities across the region. Israeli officials have said they will unilaterally do what’s necessary to protect their country.

Raisi addressed Israel directly during a speech at an annual parade of Iran’s armed forces.

“If the tiniest move by you happens against nation of Iran, center of the Zionist regime will be destination of our armed forces,” Raisi said, referring to Tel Aviv.

Raisi did not elaborate but said Iran watches any move by Israel “closely.”

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Iran has not recognized Israel since the 1979 Islamic Revolution that ousted the pro-West monarchy and brought Islamists to power. It supports anti-Israeli militant groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah.

Raisi said that Iran’s military power is a deterrent. He said army managed to improve its capabilities despite years of sanctions on the country over Tehran’s nuclear program. Monday’s parade showcased jet fighters, helicopters, drones and air defense systems as well as military tanks, missiles and naval vessels.

Israel in recent years improved relations with neighboring Arab nations in the Persian Gulf, which has angered Iran’s leaders. Tehran also has blamed Israel for the sabotage of its nuclear sites and the assassinations of its nuclear scientists.

The nuclear deal collapsed four years ago when former President Donald Trump withdrew the United States and imposed crushing sanctions on Iran. In the meantime, Iran has vastly expanded its nuclear work.

U.S. intelligence agencies and the IAEA believe Iran had an organized military nuclear program until 2003. Iran insists its nuclear program has aimed at generating power and for medical purposes.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Russian troops in southern Ukraine have been carrying out torture and kidnappings, and he called on the world Sunday to respond.

“Torture chambers are built there,” Zelenskyy said in an evening address to the nation. “They abduct representatives of local governments and anyone deemed visible to local communities.”

Zelenskyy said humanitarian aid has been stolen, creating famine.

In occupied parts of the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions, he said, the Russians are creating separatist states and introducing Russian currency, the ruble.

Intensified Russian shelling of Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, has killed 18 people and wounded 106 in the last four days alone, Zelenskyy said.

“This is nothing but deliberate terror. Mortars, artillery against ordinary residential neighborhoods, against ordinary civilians,” he said.

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He said a planned Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine “will begin in the near future.”

Zelensky again called for increased sanctions against Russia, including its entire banking sector and oil industry. “Everyone in Europe and America already sees Russia openly using energy to destabilize Western societies,” Zelenskyy said. “All of this requires greater speed from Western countries in preparing a new, powerful package of sanctions.”

RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR
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KEY DEVELOPMENTS IN THE RUSSIA-UKRAINE WAR:

— Russia strikes Ukraine’s big cities, bears down on Mariupol

— Mother, grandmother weep over a 15-year-old killed in shelling of Kharkiv

— Elderly mother feels “lost,” seeks son’s body in Ukrainian town of Bucha

— Prince Harry pays tribute to Ukrainian competitors as he opens the Invictus Games

— ‘We pray for you’: Ukrainian Jews mark Passover, if they can

Follow all AP stories on Russia’s war on Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine.


OTHER DEVELOPMENTS:

WASHINGTON — Ukraine’s foreign minister is describing the situation in Mariupol as dire and heartbreaking and says Russia’s continued attacks there could be a “red line” that ends all efforts to reach peace through negotiation.

Dmytro Kuleba tells CBS’ “Face the Nation” that the remaining Ukrainian military personnel and civilians in the port city are basically encircled by Russian forces.

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He says the Ukrainians “continue their struggle” but that the city effectively doesn’t exist anymore because of massive destruction.

Kuleba says his country has been keeping up “expert level” talks with Russia in recent weeks in hopes of reaching a political solution for peace. But citing the significance of Mariupol, he echoed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in saying the elimination of Ukrainian forces there could be a “red line” that stops peace efforts.


WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden says he’s praying on Easter for those living in the “dark shadow” of war, persecution and poverty.

Biden released an Easter message Sunday in which he says he’s also praying for peace, freedom and basic dignity and respect for all of God’s children.

Biden didn’t say which war he had in mind, but the president has been deeply involved in trying to force an end to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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