DUBAI (Reuters) - Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged Iran’s armed forces on Sunday to increase their power to “scare off” the enemy, as the country faces increased tension with the United States.
His statement came just before Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said it fired seven missiles in an attack on Iraq-based Iranian Kurdish dissidents that killed at least 11 people on Saturday.
“Increase your power as much as you can, because your power scares off the enemy and forces it to retreat,” Khamenei’s official website quoted him as saying at a graduation ceremony for cadets of Iran’s regular armed forces.
U.S. President Donald Trump in May withdrew from Iran’s nuclear agreement with world powers — a deal aimed at stalling Tehran’s nuclear capabilities in return for lifting some sanctions — and ordered the reimposition of U.S. sanctions that had been suspended under the deal.
“Iran and the Iranian nation have resisted America and proven that, if a nation is not afraid of threats by bullies and relies on its own capabilities, it can force the superpowers to retreat and defeat them,” Khamenei said during a visit to Iran’s Caspian port city of Nowshahr.
State television also showed Khamenei praising Iranian naval forces in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Yemen, while speaking to their commander via videolink.
Shi’ite power Iran rejects accusations from Saudi Arabia that it is giving financial and military support to Yemen’s Houthis, who are fighting a government backed by a Saudi-led military coalition of Sunni Arab countries.
Meanwhile, a senior military official said Iran had capability to export the know-how to produce solid rocket fuel, the state news agency IRNA reported. Solid fuel rockets can be fired on short notice.
“In the scientific field, today we have reached a stage where we can export the technology to produce solid rocket fuel,” said Brigadier General Majid Bokaei, director-general of Iran’s main defense university, quoted by IRNA.
Iran said earlier this month it planned to boost its ballistic and cruise missile capacity and acquire modern fighter planes and submarines to boost its defense capabilities.
On Saturday 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, following the U.S. pullout from Iran’s 2015 nuclear agreement.
Reporting by Dubai newsroom; Editing by David Goodman and Raissa Kasolowsky