With Trump Presidency Looming, Iranian Officials Vow to Accelerate Nuclear Propulsion, Ballistic Missile Programs
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced on Monday that he had fulfilled his pledge to replace the country’s centrifuges with the most advanced and modern ones – and that the plan to make a nuclear propulsion system operative is underway, the regime-aligned news agency Tasnim reported.
Rouhani’s declaration – made during a ceremony in Tehran to unveil Iran’s Charter on Citizens’ Rights — came a day after the commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force boasted to a gathering of academics about the quality and quantity of Iran’s ballistic missile capabilities, according to the semi-official state news agency Fars.
“We will not stop enhancement of our capability, knowledge and production in defense fields, specially the missile industry,” Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh reportedly told the audience in Tehran on Sunday.
It also coincided with a statement made by Iranian Deputy Transport Minister Asghar Fakhrieh Kashan, who told Reuters — according to Tasnim — that Tehran is “not concerned, though should not ignore the possibility” that the incoming administration of US President-elect Donald Trump will derail the Islamic Republic’s deals with aviation giants Boeing and Airbus by imposing new sanctions.
If that were to happen, Fakhrieh Kashan said, Tehran “would consider it a violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – the nuclear deal — which explicitly provides for the possibility [of] the purchase of aircraft and their sale by manufacturers.”
According to Tasnim, Fakhrieh Kashan also dismissed claims that the potential danger of the purchases lies in the possibility that Iran could appropriate commercial jets for military purposes, calling the suggestion “propaganda against the Iranian society and people.”
On Sunday, Tasnim reported, Iranian Minister of Road and Urban Development Abbas Akhoundi said that a contract with French manufacturer Airbus for the purchase of planes will be finalized in a matter of days, and that the details of the deal will be made public later.
As The Algemeiner has reported extensively, both verbal muscle-flexing on the part of the regime in Tehran and a repeated display of ballistic missile-testing have steadily increased since signing the JCPOA with world powers last year in July.
With Trump’s election last month, less blatant threats have been issued of late against the US, which Tehran continues to claim is on the verge of breaching the JCPOA.
As The Algemeiner reported earlier this month, following the unanimous US Senate vote to extend the Iran Sanctions Act for an additional 10 years, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said that there would be serious consequences to every American violation of the JCPOA. “Our reaction in the first stage will be a political and legal move, and if we fail to reach a certain solution to the US breaches, we will press on with our measures in various fields according to a package we have,” he declared, in a veiled reference to possible military steps or speeding up of nuclear activity.
The United States rejects Iranian accusations that it has already violated or plans to breach any clauses of the JCPOA.
In an interview with The Algemeiner last month, following what foreign media outlets reported was an Israeli strike on an Iran-backed Hezbollah weapons convoy in Syria, former director-general of Israel’s Ministry of International Affairs and Strategy IDF Brig. Gen. (res.) Yosef Kuperwasser said that Iran has been stepping up the speed at which it is arming its proxies in the Middle East, due to its fear that after Trump assumes office in January, its room to maneuver will be greatly curtailed.