Tehran (AFP) – President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday that Iran “does not intend any aggression” against its neighbours but will continue to produce all the weapons it needs for its defence.
“We tell the world that we will produce any weapons that we need, or if necessary we will procure them. We have not been waiting… and will not wait for your remarks or agreement,” said Rouhani at a military parade in Tehran to mark the annual Army Day.
“But at the same time we announce to our neighbouring countries in the region… we do not intend any aggression against you.”
The United States and its allies have been demanding that Iran curb its ballistic missile programme, but Tehran sees this as crucial to its defensive posture.
US President Donald Trump has threatened to tear up the 2015 nuclear deal that lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for curbs to its atomic programme unless new restrictions are imposed on its missile programme and other areas by May 12.
“We want friendly and brotherly relations with our neighbours and we tell them that our weapons, our equipment, our missiles, our planes, our tanks are not against you, it is for deterrence,” said Rouhani.
“The only way to resolve problems is political negotiation and peaceful behaviour,” he added.
Regional rival Saudi Arabia accuses Iran of seeking to dominate the Middle East through the expansion of proxy forces in countries like Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.
Iran argues these forces operate with the permission of allied governments to fight jihadist groups and prevent the disintegration of states.
Rouhani did not appear to reference Israel, which Iran considers an “illegitimate regime” and whose dissolution is a top priority for the country’s Islamic rulers.
Israel has expressed concern over the growing presence of Iranian forces along its borders and has recently launched air strikes against Iranian positions in Syria.