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Khamenei says Iran must become strong to end 'enemy threat'

Supreme Leader of Iran aAyatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran must become strong [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 February, 2020

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Supreme Leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran become become strong 'so that enemy's threats will end'.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Saturday that the Islamic republic must become strong enough to ward off the "enemy's threats" and prevent a war.

Khamenei also said Iran had a strong air force despite decades of US pressure and sanctions on the country since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

"We must become strong so that there will not be a war, become strong so that enemy's threats will end," he told a gathering of air force commanders and staff.

"We do not want to threaten anyone... this is to prevent threats, to maintain the country's security," he added in a speech aired on state television.

Tensions escalated between Tehran and Washington after a January 3 US drone strike killed top Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad.

Iran retaliated days later by firing a wave of missiles at American troops stationed in Iraq.

Its defence forces had been braced for US retaliation when they shot down a Ukraine International Airlines flight a few minutes after take-off from Tehran on January 8.

"Our Air Force, which had no right to & couldn't even repair parts of aircrafts (before the revolution) now builds planes," Khamenei was quoted as saying on his English-language Twitter account.

"Sanctions are literally crimes, BUT they can be turned into opportunities," he added.

Amirali Hajizadeh, head of the aerospace division of Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), revealed Friday he will soon disclose further details on the Iranian attack on US troops housed at Iraq's Ain Al-Asad air base in January.

The military commander joked there was a possibility they would announce that some US troops may have "died from mild brain injuries," the Tehran Times reported.

In 2018, the United States withdrew unilaterally from a landmark nuclear deal with Iran and began reimposing sanctions as part of its "maximum pressure" campaign on the country.

Read more: The legitimacy crisis and upcoming parliamentary elections in Iran

Top EU diplomat Josep Borrel visited Tehran last week on a mission aimed at lowering tensions over the Islamic republic's nuclear programme, which has been crumbling since the US withdrawal.

Iran has gradually stepped back from its own commitments under the deal, prompting the European parties to trigger a complaint mechanism under the deal to pressure Tehran to return to full implementation.

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