Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday that Iran does not need “permission to build missiles,” in an apparent response to recent sanctions by the United States on the Islamic Republic’s ballistic missile program.
“Iran will ask no soul’s permission to build missiles,” the state-run Press TV quoted him as saying.
Speaking at a defense ministry event to show off new Iranian-made weapons, Rouhani claimed that the country’s development of ballistic missiles and other advanced arms is strictly for defensive purposes.
“We have repeatedly declared that strengthening the defensive prowess of Iran’s Armed Forces is only aimed at defending the country and will never be used against another country,” he said.
Despite Rouhani’s claim that Iran’s development of weapons is for strictly peaceful purposes, Israel and the US have accused the Islamic Republic with arming a number of terror groups and Shiite militias in the region engaged in offense operations, such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip, the Houthis in Yemen and the Taliban in Afghanistan.
In his remarks Saturday, Rouhani also said that Iran’s development of ballistic missiles was necessary to prevent “the crimes and acts of aggression” of the US and other regional powers.
“Even if our region were completely secure and major powers were not present there, a country still needs deterrent power and the region requires balance,” he said.
He also warned than any attempt to upset the regional balance of power would lead to problems, which he said has long been undermined by the “powers’ intervention and the cancerous tumor of Israel,” Press TV reported.
After Iran test-fired a ballistic missile in January, the US imposed sanctions on a number of entities involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program, and US President Donald Trump warned the Islamic Republic it had been “put on notice.”
Although Iran maintains that the testing of ballistic missiles is not banned by the 2015 nuclear deal designed to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, the US said that the sanctions were imposed for Iran’s violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2331, which calls upon Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”
Since January’s test-firing of a ballistic missile, Iran has carried out a number of other tests of ballistic, cruise and submarine-based missiles, while in March state television said Iran successfully tested the S-300 missile defense system delivered to it by Russia following the 2015 nuclear deal after years of delay.
In addition to disagreements over Iran’s missile program, tensions between the two countries were further ratcheted up after the US struck an airfield with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles belonging to the Syrian regime — of which Iran has lang been a key backer — in response to a chemical weapons strike carried out by the Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces earlier this month, with Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei labeling the US strike as a “strategic mistake.”