Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s nominee for defence minister said Thursday that he would further enhance Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities if he takes the post, Press TV reported.
“In the next four years, apart from enhancing combat and defence capabilities, we will devote a special effort to boosting missile and ballistic power,” Brig.-Gen. Amir Hatami, said in Iran’s parliament.
Hatami said besides, stronger strategic air power and maritime power, and larger rapid reaction forces would be key priorities on his agenda over the next four years.
“Iran has achieved defence deterrence power and the enemies acknowledge Iran’s high defence power in the region and the world,” he said.
Hatami also stressed to counter U.S.-led threats against the country.
It was reported that Rouhani on Wednesday warned that he could ramp up its nuclear programme and quickly achieve a more advanced level if the US continues “threats and sanctions” against the country, which signed a landmark nuclear accord with world powers in 2015.
Rouhani’s remarks to lawmakers were his most direct warning that the deal could fall apart, and risked ratcheting up tensions with the United States.
US President Donald Trump has repeatedly said he wants to scuttle the accord, which limited Iran’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon while ending most sanctions against it.
Iran’s parliament voted to increase spending on the country’s ballistic missile programme and the foreign operations of its paramilitary Revolutionary Guard.
The move came in response to U.S. legislation passed on Aug, 8, imposing mandatory penalties on people involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program and anyone who does business with them.
The U.S. legislation also applies terrorism sanctions to the Guard and enforces an existing arms embargo.
If Washington continues with “threats and sanctions” against Iran, Rouhani said in parliament on Tuesday, Tehran could easily ramp up its nuclear activities.
The agreement between Iran and world powers two years ago capped Iran’s uranium enrichment levels in return for the lifting of international sanctions.
The US and other world powers fear Iran seeks the ability to produce atomic weapons. Iran has long denied that it seeks nuclear arms and says its nuclear programme is only for peaceful purposes.
It was not immediately clear what Rouhani was referring to, and whether he meant Iran could restart centrifuges enriching uranium to higher and more dangerous levels.
He also offered no evidence of Iran’s capability to rapidly restart higher enrichment, though Iran still has its stock of centrifuges.
Those devices now churn out uranium to low levels that can range from use as reactor fuel and for medical and research purposes, but could produce the much higher levels needed for a nuclear weapon.
In December, Rouhani ordered up plans to build nuclear-powered ships, something that appears to be allowed under the nuclear deal.