Sustaining his inflammatory attacks against the US, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday that Tehran should avoid negotiations with the US on any issues while boosting its offensive military capabilities.
When facing the US, Khamenei said at a military exhibition, “it is wrong to assume that common points and understanding can be worked out through negotiations.”
“And that’s why I insist that [we] are required to avoid negotiating with the US, and experience has proven that instead of understanding, the Americans are seeking to impose their will in negotiations,” he added.
Referring to “bullying” and “arrogant” powers in apparent reference to the US, Khamenei said that “in order to secure our population, our country and our future we have to increase our offensive capabilities as well as our defensive capabilities.”
“In a world where the bullying powers are ruling without the least essence of morality, conscience and humanity and are not shy of invading other countries and massacring innocent people, the development of defensive and offensive industries is quite natural,” he was quoted by the Fars news agency as saying.
“Iran’s defensive capability and power must be increased so that the bullying powers would feel threatened,” he added.
Khamenei urged Iran’s defense industry leaders to push forward with arms development and programs, saying such work was a national duty.
Apart from the “manufacture of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) such as nuclear and chemical weapons…there is no restriction in other fields for increasing our defense and military capabilities, and progress in these fields is a duty,” he said.
In a dig at the US for criticizing the sale of Russian made S-300 missiles to Iran — which Iran deployed at its Fordo nuclear site earlier this week — Khamenei said: “These powers who claim to be advocates of wisdom and fairness and speak of other countries’ ethical qualifications for having or not having some defensive equipment are themselves not abiding by any of the moral principles.”
Tehran on Sunday announced that it had deployed the long-range missiles to protect its nuclear facilities at Fordo, in central Iran.
“Continued opposition and hype on the S-300 or the Fordo site are examples of the viciousness of the enemy,” Khamenei had said on Sunday.
“The S-300 system is a defense system not an assault one, but the Americans did their best for Iran not to get hold of it,” he said.
The Russian-made missile defense system is one of the most advanced of its kind in the world, offering long-range protection against both airplanes and missiles. The first shipment arrived in Iran in April.
Khamenei’s rabble-rousing comes amid escalating tensions between US and Iranian vessels in the Persian Gulf over the past two weeks.
On Sunday, in an apparent reference to the US, Khamenei told soldiers at a Tehran air base “the enemy should understand that if it makes any aggression, it will be hit hard and our defense will also include response.”
Khamenei also called to bolster Iran’s military capabilities “to the extent that the enemy doesn’t even allow itself to think about aggression.”
Referring to Iran’s controversial purchase of the S-300 missile defense system from Russia, Khamenei charged the US “doesn’t respect our nation’s right of defense and actually wants us to remain defenseless so that they can launch aggression against our country whenever they want.”
His remarks came days after US seamen complained of being harassed by Iranian gunboats in the open waters of the Persian Gulf,.
Last Wednesday, a US military official said Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf harassed American naval vessels in three recent incidents, including one that prompted a US warship ship to fire warning shots.
According to US Navy Fifth Fleet spokesman Commander Bill Urban, several IRGC boats maneuvered around two US patrol ships, the USS Squall and USS Tempest, creating a possible collision hazard.
All three encounters last week occurred in international waters in the northern Persian Gulf, Urban said.
A day earlier, US defense officials said four Iranian warships in the Strait of Hormuz sped close to two US Navy guided-missile destroyers with their weapons uncovered in an “dangerous, harassing situation” that could have led to an escalation.
Video of the incident involving the USS Nitze shows American sailors firing flares and sounding the warship’s horn as the Iranian boats approached. A sailor can be heard saying that the weapons on the Iranian boats were “uncovered, manned.”
The Nitze was accompanied on its mission by the USS Mason, another destroyer.
When asked about the Tuesday incident, Iran’s Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan said his country’s “naval units have the duty of safeguarding the country’s security in the sea and the Persian Gulf.”
OnThursday, Dehghan said that his naval forces will warn or confront any foreign ship entering the country’s territorial waters.
The semi-official Tasnim news agency quoted Gen. Hosein Dehghan as saying that “if any foreign vessel enters our waters, we warn them, and if it’s an invasion, we confront.” He added that Iranian boats patrol to monitor traffic and foreign vessels in its territorial waters.
A defense official told AFP that ships from the US and Iranian navies had interacted more than 300 times in 2015 and more than 250 times the first half of this year.
Ten percent of those encounters were deemed unsafe and unprofessional, the official said.
In January, the Iranian navy briefly captured the crews of two US patrol boats that had, through a series of blunders, strayed into Iranian territorial waters.
The 10 American sailors were released within 24 hours.