Delivering a ‘True Promise’: an insider account of Iran’s strikes on Israel

Iranian firebrand MP Mahmoud Nabavian reveals the calculated strategy, diplomatic intrigue, and bold military prowess that showcased Tehran’s 13 April missile strikes on Israel.

Delivering a ‘True Promise’: an insider account of Iran’s strikes on Israel
Iranian firebrand MP Mahmoud Nabavian reveals the calculated strategy, diplomatic intrigue, and bold military prowess that showcased Tehran’s 13 April missile strikes on Israel.

Following the strategic success of Iran’s ‘True Promise’ retaliatory drone and missile operation in response to last month’s Israeli bombing of the Iranian consulate in Damascus, The Cradle presents an exclusive insider‘s narrative provided by Iranian Member of Parliament Mahmoud Nabavian, a principalist who won the most votes in Tehran during the country’s March elections.

His account of the retaliatory strikes against the occupation state offers unparalleled insights into the 13–14 April events. With access to military sources, Nabavian’s testimony serves as the most detailed view to date by an Iranian government official on Iran’s response, one that has sorely exposed the vulnerabilities of Israel’s air defense systems.

In a closed Telegram posting, Nabavian explained that Israel’s “cowardly” attack, which led to the martyrdom of prominent leaders in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), occurred “on our soil” – a reference to the Iranian diplomatic mission in Damascus:

“As the Imam [Ali Khamenei] said, the enemies made a mistake.” Iran’s full-on retaliatory strikes, he thus maintains, were justified and legal under Article 51 of the UN Charter.

Below is a transcript (edited for length) from Nabavian’s important revelations about Iran’s military strikes on Israel and the flurry of international deal-making attempts that preceded them:

Two hours after the attack on the consulate in Damascus, the Iranian National Security Council convened and affirmed the inevitability of a response and gave a 10-day deadline to take the necessary diplomatic measures and for the armed forces to prepare their plan to respond.

Diplomatically, the first step was to go to the Security Council, even though we knew that this would be futile. But it was necessary to file a complaint about the attack on our land, assert our natural right to self-defense, and request a Security Council session. Because we are not members of the Council, we had to talk to member states to request that the session be held.

China, Russia, and Algeria agreed. Russia submitted the request, and the session was held, but the US, Germany, Britain, and France did not allow a statement to be issued condemning Israel. The heads of our missions abroad were also active in informing the concerned countries that we would respond to the Zionist entity.

Due to these pressures, Israel denied it had attacked a diplomatic building and that those who were targeted were not diplomats. The consulate building, four of its five floors, were purchased 45 years ago and were designated for diplomatic work. It was indeed a diplomatic building.

After we assured the international community of our right to respond, some countries, such as the US, Germany, England, France, Canada, and Egypt, tried to convince us not to do so, and they confirmed their readiness to meet Iran’s requests. For example, some of these countries that were not previously willing to grant entry visas to our diplomats or officials suddenly decided to do so immediately.

When the US realized that we were serious, it sent a threat that if the response was launched from Iranian territory, it might attack Iran. Our response was that the US is not among our targets, but if it decides to involve itself in defense of Israel, we will respond by targeting it as well, and as you know, there are many American bases around us.

Despite this, the US, Britain, France, and Germany insisted on the same message, yet our answer was that Israel crossed a red line. Then, they said, if we must respond, let it be from outside Iranian territory.

Why did they insist that the strike not be from inside Iran? Because for a long time, they have been assassinating our nuclear scientists and carrying out sabotage operations at the Natanz nuclear reactor. In the last six months alone, they have assassinated 18 members of our armed forces, and we have always responded through our allies [in the Axis of Resistance], but if we did that this time, we would lose face.

If Lebanese Hezbollah had responded to Israel, it could have bombed Beirut, and western powers would have seized upon this to say, ‘If this is a war between Iran and Israel, why did Hezbollah involve itself in it?’ They would also hold it responsible for the subsequent unrest in Lebanon.

Therefore, the insistence that the Iranian response should be through Iran’s allies was meant to distort Hezbollah’s reputation and unleash Israel to target it and other resistance forces in the region and to portray them as mercenaries of Iran. We read these western intentions well, and accordingly, the decision was taken to respond from within Iranian territory.

On the night of Eid al-Fitr, a meeting was held with the heads of diplomatic missions of the countries of the region, and we informed them that we are keen on good neighborliness, but if the US uses any of your countries to carry out action against us, we will strike the US bases on your lands.

This message was conveyed to Washington, and they realized that Iran was serious. They asked us to exercise restraint. The US, Germany, England, France, and Canada – these countries that support brutality and crime in the world and provide the weapons with which the people of Gaza are bombed – ask us to exercise restraint.

[UK Foreign Secretary] David Cameron called the night after the Iranian attack and said he couldn’t sleep last night. This is the malicious British foreign secretary. Why? Because we sent 300 drones and missiles over the heads of the Israelis. The Iranian official who spoke to him said, ‘For six months, rockets have been falling on the people of Gaza, and you slept well every night.’ This is the same malicious Britain that encouraged the US to launch attacks on Yemen.

The important thing is coordination at all levels before responding, politically, diplomatically, and in the media. After the Leader [Ali Khamenei] affirmed in his Eid al-Fitr sermon that we will certainly discipline the enemy, messages came to us requesting that the response be proportionate and not forceful.

Our answer was clear: that first, we would definitely strike Israel; second, that the attack would be direct from Iranian territory; and third, that the National Security Council decided that the response would be a deterrent.

Meanwhile, Azerbaijan informed us that it had information that we would bomb the Israeli embassy in Baku, and they asked us not to carry out any action on their territory. I think this was a message that they could turn a blind eye to striking Israeli targets in a neighboring country, but we were already aware of that.

The messages we received were not limited to the US and European countries, but we also received messages from some countries in the region. We tried to take advantage of the matter to reach a ceasefire in Gaza, and we told everyone that this might be a solution to the problem.

They asked us whether a ceasefire in Gaza meant that we would refrain from responding. We answered that we would strike Israel in any case, but perhaps a decision like this would help reduce the severity of the attack. They asked that we give them a few days.

We asked our military forces to postpone the response for 24 hours and gave the countries of the world the opportunity to adhere to their obligations stipulated in international laws and for Israel to pledge not to attack Iranian forces and interests in the region and the world.

Regarding the Iranian request to conclude a permanent, complete, and immediate truce in the Gaza Strip: US President Joe Biden sent a message stating that he would work to achieve it himself, but he set a malicious condition, which is that the Palestinian resistance releases all Israeli prisoners in exchange for Israel releasing 900 Palestinian prisoners, after which the implementation of the truce begins.

Of course, Hamas did not agree to the matter, and this was the correct decision. We understood that they [the Americans] are not serious about reaching a truce and that they are only looking to achieve their malign goals.

Everyone realized that we would attack Israel. The US, France, Britain, and even Italy harnessed all their military capabilities in Qatar, alongside the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.

They equipped six missile launchers in the region’s waters with a range of between 2,000 and 3,000 kilometers. They harnessed all modern satellites and radars, moved 103 aircraft into the region’s airspace to strike our missiles, and placed all air defense systems under unified command under the supervision of the US to confront Iranian missiles in several stages.

That is, if the Iranian missiles were able to pass any defense line, they would be targeted and shot down in the next.

What is interesting is that the German foreign minister, 24 hours before the Iranian operation was carried out, called us and was pleading that we not target Israel from inside Iranian territory. He said that our missiles would not be able to pass the obstacles and defense lines that they had prepared to intercept our missiles and that the US was using 70 drones in Iraq for that, and it would increase the number to 700.

They were monitoring the movements of our soldiers, missiles, and drones, and they believed that none of the Iranian missiles would reach Israel. They were confident that the missiles would not be able to penetrate air defense systems.

At the Turkish Incirlik base, which includes 5,000 soldiers, a large number of AWACS planes and 15 jamming planes were harnessed to repel our attack.

As such, they were astonished at how Iran was able to evade the huge layers of defense they had activated, and what surprised them even more was that it took five and a half to seven hours for the drones to reach the Zionist entity, and their speed was not great, which meant that they were easy to shoot down.

Twenty-four hours before the operation, Washington sent a firm message stating that if we decided to attack Israel from our territory, they will respond militarily against Iran. This time, they did not talk about possibilities but rather said that they would definitely attack Iranian territory. Our answer was decisive, that we will definitely strike Israel from within our territories, and if you commit any mistake, we will target all your bases in the region.

We informed Saudi Arabia and the countries of the region that if Iranian territory is targeted from within your territory, we will definitely respond. Saudi Arabia announced that it would not allow any operation against Iran to be carried out from its territory, and the authorities in Cyprus also informed us of a similar message.

We knew that the Iraqi and Jordanian airspace was completely under US control. We thought about the Israeli targets that we were going to hit, and we faced two obstacles: the first was that their air defenses were very strong, and we had to find a way for our drones and missiles to pass them, and the second was not to take action that will lead to us being condemned.

The decision was to strike two military targets: the first was the [Nevatim] airport from which the F-35 plane that bombed the Iranian consulate took off, and the second was an Israeli intelligence center in the Golan. By coincidence, the fighter jet that targeted the consulate fired its missiles from above this intelligence headquarters.

Our drones, numbering about 130, were launched, the majority of which belonged to us, and between two and three were sent by our allied forces. We also launched missiles carrying explosive warheads, a large number of which deflected the air defenses from their path.

I will not talk much about the number of hits we targeted, but out of 17 missiles, 15 hit their targets, meaning 89 percent. The whole west was there, and we delivered an important message to the world.

In the aftermath of the operation, 15 countries contacted and said that they were seeking a ceasefire in Gaza and asked Israel not to respond.

The British and German foreign ministers contacted us and said that international law does not include the term “punishment.” We answered them: If that does not exist in international law, why did you propose punishing Hamas after 7 October? The calls continued to ask whether we would attack Israel again. We said that if we were attacked, we would respond tenfold.

The countries of the region have now understood Iran’s capabilities and it seems that they will seek to significantly improve their relations with Iran. The Israelis realized that when the spirit of despair takes hold, as Ben Gurion says, ‘we will begin to fall down the slope that leads to the abyss,’ and this has become clear to the world.

As the master of the resistance [Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah] expresses, ‘Israel is weaker than a spider’s web,’ and, God willing, this operation will be a deterrent against the assassinations that were occurring against us. Now, this is the only thing that Israel can do, and we must be more vigilant, and we must instill hope in the peoples of the region and not care about the rulers.

Mahmoud Nabavian’s account not only exposes the meticulous planning behind the Islamic Republic’s response but also reveals a resolve to defend sovereignty and impose a credible deterrence against future violations – at all costs.

Tehran’s military response should be interpreted beyond the current regional war centered on Gaza and signals a broad recalibration of power dynamics in West Asia. As western and neighboring states assess the implications of Iran’s new assertive military posture, alliances, and strategies will require careful reconsideration.

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