Iran’s senior military commander says the country’s recent back-to-back military drills have made the United States give up its threats of military action against the Islamic Republic.
The remarks came less than a week after Iran’s Army and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) wrapped up a series of manoeuvers which saw the forces test their various armed units during 15 days of exercises.
Speaking on Monday, Chair of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major General Mohammad Baqeri, said Iran put its military might on display after repeated threats by the former US government of Donald Trump.
They were a response to the ‘irrational US president’s muscle-flexing,’ Baqeri said.
‘The manoeuvres actually displayed the power and readiness of the Islamic Republic and the Armed Forces to the world and the enemies. They heartened the Iranian nation and resulted in the enemies’ despair,’ the military commander noted.
Having witnessed the Iranian show of force, the commander said, the enemy ‘announced on several occasions that it had no intention of any invasion, that its actions were defensive, and that it was concerned about the actions that might be taken by Iran’s allies on the anniversary of the assassination of General Soleimani.’
The IRGC chief commander added that Iran’s recent military exercises gave a warning to enemies to avoid any miscalculation of Iran’s deterrent power.
Last January, the IRGC fired volleys of ballistic missiles at two American bases in Iraq in retaliation for the US assassination of Lieutenant General Qassem Soleimani, head of the Quds Force, while he was in Baghdad.
General Soleimani, admired as the region’s most popular anti-terror commander, was targeted in an American drone attack during an official visit to the Iraqi capital.
According to the US Defence Department, more than 110 American forces suffered ‘traumatic brain injuries’ during the Iranian counter-strikes.
The IRGC, however, says Washington uses the term to cover up the number of Americans who were actually killed in the retaliation.
Meanwhile, Tehran says there are no new developments with regard to the 2015 nuclear agreement it reached with six world powers, which was later ditched by former US President Donald Trump.
‘We haven’t seen any new development regarding the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plann of Action),’ Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said at a press conference on Monday, using the official name of the nuclear deal.
He said Iran has made it clear that the US should first lift the sanctions, which were imposed under Trump, and honour the JCPOA, before Iran returns to full compliance with the accord.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action came under vicious attacks during the four years Trump was in office, but it survived nevertheless.
After pulling out in May 2018, Trump intensified his efforts to kill the deal, which was signed under his predecessor Barack Obama.
Iran, for its part, waited patiently for the other signatories – namely the UK, France, Germany, China and Russia – to protect its interests as promised under the deal.
However, as they failed to protect it against Washington’s ‘maximum pressure’ policy and compensate it, Tehran announced a gradual reduction of its commitments under the deal exactly one year after the US withdrawal.
Meanwhile, with a new Democratic administration in Washington, the prospects of renewed endeavours to salvage diplomacy have improved.
But Khatibzadeh, who is also a former Iran foreign minister, warned a US return to the nuclear deal without lifting the sanctions would amount to an act of extortion.
In his Monday press conference, he underlined that as long as sanctions are still in place, Iran will not change its position.
‘Naturally, as stated before, Iran’s reduction (of its commitments) is reversible if the other side honors its obligations and the conditions are restored to the pre-JCPOA withdrawal era,’ Khatibzadeh said.
‘We’ve heard a lot of talk, but now it is time to act.’
And he emphasised that a return to the JCPOA should be done ‘responsibly’.
‘That a government whimsically decides to exit an agreement endorsed by a UN Security Council resolution and then decides to re-enter it is not feasible,’ he said, noting that Iran’s stance, unlike that of the United States, is based on legal grounds.
He further stressed that the US cannot do whatever it wants and then return to the previous conditions, suggesting that the US should make up for the damage inflicted upon Iran by its illegal withdrawal from the JCPOA and its subsequent sanctions.
Asked to comment on the Iranian Parliament’s recent push for accelerating the development of the country’s nuclear programme, Khatibzadeh said if the European parties to the deal do not honour their commitments under UN Security Council Resolution 2231, Iran should naturally stop the International Atomic Energy Agency’s safeguards inspections and implementation of the Additional Protocol.
He warned the European parties to the deal that this is their ‘last chance to return to honouring their commitments and salvage the JCPOA.
‘The Americans should also know that we will implement the Parliament’s law word by word,’ he added.
Early last month, Iranian lawmakers overwhelmingly voted in favour of the Strategic Action Plan to Counter Sanctions, which tasked the Iranian administration with suspending more commitments under the JCPOA.
The law, among other things, required the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) to produce at least 120kg of 20 per cent enriched uranium annually and start the installation, gas injection, enrichment and storage of nuclear materials up to an appropriate enrichment degree within a period of three months using at least 1,000 IR-2m centrifuges.
A month later, Tehran announced the beginning of the process to enrich uranium to 20 per cent purity at its Fordow nuclear facility in a tit-for-tat move against the US withdrawal and the European countries’ failure to protect Iran’s interests.
‘Whenever the other side rectifies its steps, we will reverse our measures as well, including the 20 percent enrichment,’ Khatibzadeh said.
He also stated that although a few days have passed since Biden’s inauguration, ‘we haven’t seen any measure from the European side.’
In reference to the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX), a financial mechanism proposed by the Europeans to circumvent US sanctions, Khatibzadeh suggested that the mechanism has failed to meet its purpose.
‘INSTEX was created to neutralise unilateral, extra-territorial and illegal US sanctions, not to conduct limited exchanges in some areas under the sanctions,’ he said.
Reacting to recent remarks by German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who blamed Iran for INSTEX’s failure to be effective, Khatibzadeh said the remarks were intended to divert attention from their failure to fulfill their obligations.
‘Some of the parties in the JCPOA think that history can be erased with their remarks or that Iran will forget their commitments,’ he said.
- President Hassan Rouhani has assured the nation of a bright future for the Iranian economy as the failure of the US economic war will open up a new chapter in trade ties.
Speaking at a meeting of the government’s economic coordination headquarters in Tehran on Sunday, Rouhani predicted that Iran’s economic situation would improve given the easing of inflation expectations and increased oil and non-oil exports.
However, he added, the enemies are seeking to stop or slow down the positive trend through propaganda by their hostile media and psychological warfare.
‘It has been proven to the government that the goal of the defeated directors of the economic war is to disrupt the country’s economic peace, and today they are trying to make the victory of the nation against the economic war fruitless and bitter,’ Rouhani said.
‘I am sure that economic activists and the people … do not pay attention to such statements and measures, and strongly continue their activities with confidence, tranquility and hope for the bright horizon of the country’s economy.’
The Iranian chief executive further stressed that the failure of former US President Donald Trump’s economic war has changed the view of Iran’s trading partners, with the country’s economic relations entering a new phase.
Iran has been under a series of illegal sanctions imposed by the US since 2018, when Trump withdrew Washington from the 2015 nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
The US unleashed the so-called maximum pressure campaign and targeted the Iranian nation with the ‘toughest ever’ restrictive measures.
In recent months, Washington tightened its oppressive sanctions against the Islamic Republic, defying warnings from Tehran and international human rights organisations that the restrictions are severely hampering the Iranian health sector’s fight against the coronavirus pandemic.