Iran prepares its army as Israeli forces mass in Azerbaijan

Former Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu in talks with Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev

IRANIAN lawmakers have issued a statement in support of military exercises in north western Iran to warn against the Israeli regime’s presence on Azerbaijan’s soil, saying movements at Iran’s borders with its neighbours is a ‘red line’ for the Islamic Republic.

‘Any geopolitical developments in the region and movements at the borders with neighbouring countries is a red line for the holy establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran,’ read a Sunday statement signed by 165 – out of 290 – Iranian lawmakers.
They said the drills at the Aras border carry a message of ‘peace and strength’ to the neighbours, and, at the same time, should be read as a ‘warning’ to the Zionist regime.
The Iranian Army’s Ground Forces last Friday started military exercises codenamed Fatehan-e Khaybar (Conquerors of Khaybar) in the northwestern part of the country, attended by armoured, artillery, drone, and electronic warfare units under air cover provided by helicopter gunships.
Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev has criticised the exercises. Tehran has hit back by saying that holding drills was part of the national sovereignty, warning that Israel’s anti-Iran activities in neighbouring countries will not be tolerated.
In their statement, the Iranian lawmakers said they fully support the Fatehan-e Khaybar drills and called on the Iranian Foreign Ministry to convey the parliamentarians’ message to the state actors in the Caucasus. Iran will not tolerate the turning of any neighbouring country’s soil into a hub for the Israeli regime’s movements, they stated.
While hailing Iran’s historic relations with neighbouring states and nations, including Azerbaijan as a Muslim-majority nation and brotherly country, the lawmakers said such ties are stable and will not be broken by the illegitimate regime of Israel.
‘The Islamic Iran has repeatedly proved its brotherhood and good neighbourliness to neighbouring countries, including the Republic of Azerbaijan.
‘Certain divisive and seditionist statements are contrary to good neighbourliness, and the Azeri government is expected to confront any act of that nature and counter divisive behaviour,’ the statement read.
President Aliev said he was ‘very surprised’ by Iran’s decision to hold drills close to his country’s borders, and questioned the timing of the manoeuvres.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh dismissed any attempt on the part of Iran to undermine the territorial integrity of others or trespass on their recognised borders.
Iran’s Armed Forces regularly hold military manoeuvres to elevate their preparedness and military prowess.
The drills serve as a warning message to the enemies against any act of aggression against the Islamic Republic.
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei has said the interference of foreign actors in the region is a source of discord and damage, calling on the regional states to follow the example of Iran for power and rationality.
Ayatollah Khamenei praised Iran’s armed forces in a virtual address to a ceremony held for graduates of military academies in Tehran last Sunday, calling them ‘a defensive shield in the true sense of the word against the hard threats of the external and internal enemies’.
His remarks came after Iran’s Army held military exercises on its northwestern border, with Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian stating that Tehran ‘does not tolerate the Zionist regime’s activity against its national security’, referring to Israel’s relations with neighbouring Azerbaijan.
‘The interference of foreigners in the region is a source of discord and damage.
‘All issues and incidents must be resolved without foreign interference and the countries of the region should follow the example of Iran and the armed forces of the Islamic Republic for power and rationality,’ the Leader said.
Ayatollah Khamenei said regional armies can provide security in the region, adding some states should not allow foreign armies to intervene or have a military presence in the region to protect their own interests.
‘The events that are taking place in the northwest of Iran in some neighbouring countries should be resolved with the same logic of avoiding giving permission to the presence of foreigners,’ the Leader said.
‘The armed forces of our dear country always act with power combined with rationality, and this rationality should be a model for other countries and a factor in solving the existing problems, and everyone should know that whoever digs a pit for his brothers shall fall therein first,’ he added.
Ayatollah Khamenei described security as the ‘basic infrastructure of all necessary activities’ for Iran’s development, saying it is important to achieve security without relying on foreigners.
The Leader said while security is something normal for the Iranian nation, many countries – even in Europe – have a problem to achieve it, citing a recent spat between France and an emerging Anglo alliance over building submarines after Australia cancelled apparently under US pressure a $56 billion contract with Paris and awarded it to American and British companies.
‘Some Europeans called the US action a stab in the back and in a way said that Europe should ensure its security independently without relying on NATO and in fact on America,’ he said, referring to French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian’s remarks in an interview.
‘When European countries feel having a deficiency in achieving lasting security because of their reliance on the United States, which is not opposed to Europe, the comeuppance of other countries that have placed their armed forces under the control of the United States and other foreigners is clear,’ the Leader said.
To provide security by relying on foreign powers is just an ‘illusion’, Ayatollah Khamenei said.
‘Those who suffer from this illusion will soon get slapped because the direct or indirect interference of foreigners in the security, war and peace of any country is a catastrophic disaster.’
Ayatollah Khamenei touched on the disgraceful withdrawal of well-armed US troops from Afghanistan in August, saying it was an example in pretension of power which proved hollow.
‘Those Hollywood images of the US military and countries like it are just a show because their true nature is what was seen in Afghanistan,’ the Leader said.
‘The Americans launched a military campaign against Afghanistan 20 years ago to overthrow the Taliban and during this long occupation, they committed many massacres and atrocities and caused great damage, but after all the material and human costs, they handed over the government to the Taliban and withdrew – a fact that is a lesson for all countries.’
Ayatollah Khamenei also touched on the hatred of the East Asian people for the US military, saying ‘the Americans are hated by nations wherever they intervene’.

  • Iran’s nuclear chief has said the country will launch the construction of the Arak IR-20 reactor next year, according to a lawmaker.

Head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) Mohammad Eslami made the remarks during a meeting with the Iranian parliament’s energy committee on Sunday.
Mostafa Nakha’ee, the spokesman of the committee, quoted Eslami as saying that the AEOI aims to reach the nuclear electricity production capacity of 8,000 megawatts (MW) and constructing a nuclear plant in the near future.
‘The production of 8,000 MW of nuclear power and the production of power plant fuel show that the nuclear industry in Iran as a technique and specialty is growing and has been directed toward energy production,’ Nakha’ee added.
Last month, Eslami said the government would speed up funding for the construction of the second and third units at the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant where current electricity generation capacity is limited to 1,000 MW per hour.
‘AEOI’s plan in the short run is to reach production of 8 gigawatts through diversified arrangements by tapping domestic resources and major international investment companies,’ he said.
The nuclear chief explained that the AEOI has set a goal to meet 50 per cent of the country’s new demand for 10,000-16,000 MW of electricity by building new nuclear power plants with a combined capacity of 8,000 MW.
The AEOI has ramped up Iran’s nuclear programme in recent years, particularly after the parliament’s ratification of a strategic action plan in December 2020 as a response to the United States’ withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement in 2018.
Under the December legislation, the AEOI is obliged to optimise and bring into operation the ‘40-megawatts heavy-water reactor in Arak’s Khondab,’ and also design ‘a new 40-megawatts heavy-water reactor’.