Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, the head of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, said the country’s development of ballistic missile technology had changed “the balance of power” in the region.
According to Salami, the Revolutionary Guards began tests using ballistic missiles as “a way to end the story of American aircraft carriers in the area” some 12 years ago.
“If we got this technology, we could target the enemies,” said Salami. “We tested it at sea to hit the target precisely, and that day we were able to change the balance of power.”
He later added that “diplomacy is not known without power and we are safe when we are powerful.” Salami made the comments in a televised speech, a transcript of which was made available on semi-official FARS news.
Key officials in the Trump administration blame Iran for conducting attacks against oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, and the US President himself last week accused Iran of being behind the provocation, telling Fox News: “It was them that did it.”
Tehran has categorically denied the accusations.
Rouhani, speaking at the inauguration of a new terminal at Tehran’s international airport Tuesday, said the current conflict was a “war of hopes and wills” between Iran and its enemies.
“Through their plots and dastardly plans, they plan to sow the seeds of hopelessness in the Iranian nation. But our great nation is determined to show its hopefulness and vitality and defeat the enemy’s plots,” Rouhani said.
Under the nuclear deal, Iran was permitted to stockpile limited amounts of enriched uranium and heavy water produced in that process, exporting any excess. Doing so has become extremely difficult after the US revoked waivers that allowed Iran to export those excess stockpiles, effectively forcing Iran to halt enrichment or ignore the limits, which it is now doing.
Iran announced Monday it will accelerate uranium enrichment to 3.7% — above the 3.67% mandated by the nuclear deal. Enrichment at this level is enough to continue powering parts of the country’s energy needs, but not enough to ever build a nuclear bomb.