Iran's Guards say missile programme will accelerate despite pressure from US, EU

An Iranian Russian-made s-300 missile is displayed during the annual military parade in Tehran on Sept 22, 2017.
An Iranian Russian-made s-300 missile is displayed during the annual military parade in Tehran on Sept 22, 2017. PHOTO: AFP

ANKARA (REUTERS) - Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) said on Thursday (Oct 19) its ballistic missile programme would accelerate despite US and European Union pressure to suspend it, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.

In a significant US policy shift on Oct 13, President Donald Trump disavowed Iran's compliance with a landmark 2015 nuclear deal and unveiled a more aggressive approach to the Islamic Republic over its missile development activity.

"Iran's ballistic missile programme will expand and it will continue with more speed in reaction to Trump's hostile approach towards this revolutionary organisation (the Guards)," the IRGC said in a statement published by Tasnim.

The Trump administration has imposed new unilateral sanctions aimed at impairing Iran's missile programme. It has called on Teheran not to develop missiles capable of delivering nuclear bombs. Iran says it has no such plans.

Teheran has repeatedly pledged to continue what it calls a defensive missile capability in defiance of Western criticism.

"Imposing cruel sanctions against the Guards and hostile approach of the rogue and brute (US) president shows the failure of America and the Zionist regime's (Israel) wicked policies in the region," the Guards statement said.

Iran has one of the most advanced ballistic missile programmes in the Middle East, viewing it as an essential precautionary defence against the United States and other adversaries, primarily Gulf Arab states and Israel.

Signalling no respite in geopolitical tensions in the Middle East, where Shi'ite Muslim Iran has waged a long proxy war with US-allied Sunni Muslim Saudi Arabia, the Guards vowed to continue confronting the United States and Israel.

"More decisive and stronger than ever, the Guards will continue to defend Islamic Iran and its interests," the statement said, alluding to the Quds force, the Guards' overseas arm that operates in Iraq, Syria and Yemen among other places.