Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei on Wednesday made a statement that the nation is in need of boosting its offensive military capabilities.
Khamenei’s remarks raised concerns, especially with Iran’s military power being an extremely sensitive subject with respect to the nuclear deal recently struck with the West.
“In order to secure our population, our country and our future we have to increase our offensive capabilities,” he said at a military expo in Tehran where a number of top military officials gathered, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).
Khamenei also said that expanding defensive capabilities was necessary “so that oppressive powers feel threatened”, an allusion to the United States and key European allies.
The Shi’ite leader spoke a week after a U.S. Navy ship fired warning shots towards an Iranian fast-attack craft that had approached two U.S. ships, according to a Pentagon spokesman.
The Pentagon also said that Iranian vessels had harassed a U.S. warship near the Strait of Hormuz, a vital oil and gas shipping channel, early last week.
President Hassan Rouhani, a pragmatist and a self-labeled moderator, has presided over a limited thaw in Iran’s relations with the West, with a 2015 nuclear deal with six world powers his most notable achievement.
But Iran’s military and security services that answer to the hardline Khamenei continue to see Western states as adversaries.
At the expo, held to highlight the Islamic Republic’s defence industry, there were displays and presentations of Iranian-made missiles and drones as well as the Bavar 373 missile defense system, according to IRNA.