Defying Trump, Iran says will boost missile capabilities

President Hassan Rouhani of Iran sits after speaking during the General Debate of the 72nd United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York on Sept 20, 2017. PHOTO: EPA

LONDON (REUTERS) - Iran will strengthen its missile capabilities and will not seek permission from any country to do so, President Hassan Rouhani said on Friday (Sept 22) in an undisguised snub to demands by United States President Donald Trump.

Rouhani's comments at a military event will add to the rising tensions between Teheran and Washington over the Islamic Republic's regional policies.

Separately, Iran's Tasnim news agency reported on Friday that the country had unveiled a new ballistic missile with range of 2,000km, capable of carrying several warheads. The report, which gave few other details, quoted the head of the Revolutionary Guards' aerospace division, Amirali Hajizadeh.

At the annual United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, Trump accused Iran of building "dangerous" missiles and exporting violence to Yemen, Syria and other parts of the region.

He also criticised the 2015 pact struck by Iran and six major world powers under which Teheran agreed to restrict its nuclear programme in return for loosening economic sanctions.

In a defiant speech in the capital Teheran, addressing a parade of armed forces, Rouhani said Iran will not stop boosting its military forces.

"We will increase our military power as a deterrent. We will strengthen our missile capabilities ... We will not seek permission from anyone to defend our country," Rouhani said in a speech broadcast on state television.

"All countries in the world supported the nuclear deal in the United Nations General Assembly this year… except the United States and the Zionist regime (Israel)," Rouhani said.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that the agreement must be changed or the United States could not stick with it.
Iran has said its nuclear accord cannot be renegotiated.

The prospect of Washington reneging on the deal has worried some of the US allies that helped negotiate it, especially as the world grapples with North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile development.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said the recent tension on the Korean peninsula underlined the importance of the Iranian deal, and that China would continue to support and safeguard it.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that US unilateral sanctions on Iran are "illegitimate and undermines the collective nature of international efforts."

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.