TEHRAN — Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged the country’s armed forces Sunday to increase their “defensive preparedness,” hitting out at a US warning of possible military action. He also reportedly called the US and Israel the most serious threat to the world.
Khamenei told commanders and troops in a speech that Iran “will never accept such silly remarks,” a jab at General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, though he did not name him.
Dempsey said Thursday that should ongoing diplomacy with Iran fail, “the military option… to ensure that Iran does not achieve a nuclear weapon is intact.”
The United States has long said targeted bombing of Iran’s nuclear sites and other key facilities may be needed if Tehran — which denies seeking the bomb, though the IAEA and UN Security Council have disagreed — does not rein in its atomic activities.
“All bodies from the ministry of defense to the army and the Sepah (Revolutionary Guards) should increase their military and defensive preparedness. This should be regarded as an official directive,” Khamenei said.
His response comes after Iran and six world powers led by the US agreed on April 2 on the key parameters of a nuclear deal, the hard details of which are due to be agreed by the end of June.
“After a period of silence by the other side, one of its officials has once again recently talked of ‘options on the table’,” Khamenei said.
“On the one hand they bluff, and on the other hand, they say the Islamic Republic of Iran should halt its defensive progress, which is a silly remark. Iran will never accept such silly remarks and the nation has proved that if it is attacked, it will defend itself quite powerfully. It will stand united and like a strong fist against illogical aggressors.”
In remarks translated by Iran’s Fars News, Khamenei blasted what he reportedly called the puppet regimes of the US and Europe for media hype and allegations that Iran sought to acquire nuclear weapons. “Today, the most vital threat posed to the world and the region is the US and the Zionist regime which meddle (with other nations’ affairs) and kill people anywhere they deem to be necessary, without any control or commitment to conscience or religious principles,” Fars quoted Khamenei saying.