A senior Iranian official said Saturday that the Islamic Republic would boost military spending in response to US Secretary of State John Kerry’s remark that the US reserves a military option if Tehran breaks the interim nuclear deal reached with world powers in November.
Iran’s Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani was quoted by the semi-official Fars news agency calling Kerry’s statement on Thursday “saber-rattling against the Islamic Republic of Iran” and called on lawmakers to “fully understand this sensitivity and take practical measures against it.”
Larijani gave no indication of what sort of budgetary increase he intended to put forward. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Iran had a military budget of $6.2 billion in 2012.
Kerry said Thursday that the US military is prepared to act against Iran if Tehran tries to continue the enrichment of uranium beyond permitted levels or break out toward a nuclear weapons capability.
“If they do that, then the military option that is available to the United States is ready and prepared to do what it would have to do,” he told Al Arabiya.
The six-month accord was reached on November 24 in Geneva between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 and went into effect earlier this month. It can be extended up to a year.
Under the deal, Iran has agreed to halt production of 20-percent-enriched uranium, which is just short of bomb-making material. Iran will be able to continue enrichment up to 5%. It also will eliminate its stockpile of 20% enriched uranium.
“Clearly the world would rather see us settle this peacefully than have to have a military confrontation,” he stressed. “What we are doing is profoundly in the interests of our friends in the region.”
Iran, however, did some saber-rattling of its own in response to Kerry’s statement.
Iranian Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) commander Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said that Kerry “could never understand the extent of the invasive capacity of the Islamic Republic of Iran.” He added that “direct battle with the US is the biggest dream of pious and revolutionary people across the world.”
“Your threats offer our revolutionary people the best opportunity,” Jafari said.