Iran’s new defense minister says priority is to boost missile program

Gen. Amir Hatami arrives at the podium to defend himself in a session of parliament in Tehran, on Aug. 17, 2017.

:: Iran’s new defense minister said Saturday the priority was to boost the country’s missile program and export weapons to shore up neighboring allies.

“In combat fields, especially in missiles, we have a specific plan to boost Iran’s missile power,” said General Amir Hatami, who was appointed defense minister earlier this month, in a speech carried by the ISNA news agency.

“God willing, the combat capabilities of Iran’s ballistic and cruise missiles will increase in this term,” he added. Hatami also said Iran would look to export weapons “to prevent war and conflict”.

Export of weapons

“Wherever a country becomes weak, others become encouraged to raid it… Wherever necessary, we will export weapons to increase the security of the region and countries, to prevent wars,” he said.

Hatami is the first defence minister to be selected from the regular army, rather than the elite Revolutionary Guards, in more than two decades.

Analysts say this reflects an increasing convergence between the two military arms as Iran increases its involvement in regional conflicts such as Syria and Iraq, which have been the Guard’s exclusive purview since the 1979 Islamic revolution.

In July, the United States imposed sanctions on Iran over its missile program.

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