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Khamenei says war unlikely but urges boosting Iran's defenses

China Daily | Updated: 2018-09-04 08:58
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is seen at the Hussayniyeh of Imam Khomeini in Tehran, Iran, August 13, 2018.[Photo/Agencies]

TEHERAN - Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has ruled out the possibility of military attacks by the country's enemies, but called on Iran's armed forces to boost their defense 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 defenses following the US pullout from Teheran's nuclear agreement with world powers.

"Ayatollah Khamenei emphasized 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 defense forces.

Saturday's news of the military development plans came a day after Iran dismissed a French call for negotiations on Teheran'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 British 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.

Burt, on the first visit by a British minister since US President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal, earlier met Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Saturday the talks with Burt had involved "access to banking resources and the sale of oil".

Iran has been seeking commitment from European signatories of the nuclear deal that it will be able to access the Western banking system and continue to sell oil despite US sanctions.

In a statement before his visit, Burt said: "As long as Iran meets its commitments under the deal, we remain committed to it as we believe it is the best way to ensure a safe, secure future for the region."

Reuters - Xinhua

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