Iran’s defense minister said on Tuesday that the country must be ready to defend itself against nuclear, biological and chemical attacks.
“We should be prepared to defend our nation against all threats and whatever the enemy may one day use as an offensive tool, including chemical, nuclear and biological weapons,” said Iran’s Defense Minister Amir Hatami, according to the semi-official Fars news agency.
Hatami said the “enemies of humanity” were prepared to use all means to achieve their military goals.
Iran’s defense ministry “had adopted all the necessary measures against all threats,” he said.
His statements came on the anniversary of a 1987 mustard gas attack by former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein against Iraqi Kurds, Fars said. He had previously used the chemical weapon against Iranian Kurds.
Hatami’s statements came as tensions climb in the Middle East, with the US and Iran jockeying for position ahead of expected nuclear negotiations.
Last week, Hatami that his country would give a devastating response to any Israeli attack, and that the Jewish state was aware of the peril, according to Iranian media reports.
A series of incidents at sea have also turned up the heat, including an explosion on an Israel-owned tanker in the Persian Gulf last month, an alleged attack on an Iranian ship and a report that said Israel targeted a series of Iranian ships headed to Syria.
Iran’s foreign ministry on Monday blamed Israel for the blast on the Iranian ship last week and said Iran had the right to respond.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif on Monday urged the United States to quickly rejoin the 2015 agreement limiting Iran’s nuclear ambitions, warning that the Islamic Republic’s upcoming elections could stymie progress in any talks.
The Trump administration in 2018 unilaterally withdrew the US from the nuclear accord, in which Tehran had agreed to limit its uranium enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.
When the US then reimposed some sanctions and added others, Iran gradually and publicly abandoned the deal’s limits on its nuclear development, enriching uranium to just under weapons-grade levels.
The Biden administration has said repeatedly it will return to the deal, if Iran first returns to compliance. Iran demands the US first lift sanctions, putting the two sides at a stalemate.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has long opposed the agreement and repeatedly warned against the US returning to the deal. Israel has said an agreement curtailing Iran’s nuclear program must also address its missile program and support for terrorist groups throughout the region.
Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guard on Monday inaugurated a new underground facility designated for missile storage, the country’s state TV reported. The report quoted Guard commander Gen. Hossein Salami as saying that cruise and ballistic missiles will empower the force’s navy even more. The TV report showed footage of scores of missiles in an enclosed space resembling an underground corridor.
The US and its Western allies see Iran’s missile program as a threat, along with the country’s nuclear program.