Khamenei says war unlikely but urges boosting defences

DUBAI: Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Sunday war was unlikely but called on Iran’s armed forces to boost their defence capacities, according to his official website, as the country faces increased tension with the United States.
On Saturday, Iran announced plans to boost its ballistic and cruise missile capacity and acquire modern fighter planes and submarines to boost its defences following the US pullout from Tehran’s nuclear agreement with world powers.
“Ayatollah Khamenei emphasised that based on political calculations there is no likelihood of a military war but added that the armed forces must be vigilant… and raise their personnel and equipment capacities,” the website quoted Khamenei as telling commanders of Iran’s air defence forces.
“The Supreme Leader said… the air defence units were a very sensitive part of the armed forces and on the front line of confronting the enemy, and emphasised the need to increase their readiness and capabilities,” the website said in its report on the gathering, which was
held to mark Iran’s Air Defence Day.
Saturday’s news of the military development plans came a day after Iran dismissed a French call for negotiations on Tehran’s future nuclear plans, its ballistic missile arsenal and its role in wars in Syria and Yemen.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said last month the Islamic Republic’s military prowess was what deterred Washington from attacking it.
Separately, a senior Iranian diplomat met visiting UK Junior Foreign Minister Alistair Burt and urged swift European action on a planned package of economic measures to offset the US pullout from the accord and the reimpositions of sanctions by Washington, the state news agency Irna reported.
“The imposition of (US) sanctions and pressures and the lack of rapid action by Europe to fulfill their commitments will have serious consequences,” Kamal Kharrazi, a former foreign minister who heads a top foreign policy council, told Burt, Irna reported.
Iranian officials have said they would decide whether to quit the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers after studying the European package of economic measures that could help offset US sanctions. — Reuters