DUBAI: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged Iran’s armed forces yesterday to increase their power to “scare off” the enemy, as the country faces increased tension with the United States. His statement came just before Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said it fired seven missiles in an attack on Iraq-based Iranian Kurdish dissidents that killed at least 11 people on Saturday. “Increase your power as much as you can, because your power scares off the enemy and forces it to retreat,” Khamenei’s official website quoted him as saying at a graduation ceremony for cadets of Iran’s regular armed forces.
US President Donald Trump in May withdrew from Iran’s nuclear agreement with world powers – a deal aimed at stalling Tehran’s nuclear capabilities in return for lifting some sanctions – and ordered the reimposition of US sanctions that had been suspended under the deal. “Iran and the Iranian nation have resisted America and proven that, if a nation is not afraid of threats by bullies and relies on its own capabilities, it can force the superpowers to retreat and defeat them,” Khamenei said during a visit to Iran’s Caspian port city of Nowshahr.
State television also showed Khamenei praising Iranian naval forces in the Gulf of Aden, off the coast of Yemen, while speaking to their commander via videolink. Shiite power Iran rejects accusations from Saudi Arabia that it is giving financial and military support to Yemen’s Houthis, who are fighting a government backed by a Saudi-led military coalition of Sunni Arab countries. Meanwhile, a senior military official said Iran had capability to export the know-how to produce solid rocket fuel, the state news agency IRNA reported. Solid fuel rockets can be fired on short notice.
“In the scientific field, today we have reached a stage where we can export the technology to produce solid rocket fuel,” said Brigadier General Majid Bokaei, director-general of Iran’s main defense university, quoted by IRNA. Iran said earlier this month it planned to boost its ballistic and cruise missile capacity and acquire modern fighter planes and submarines to boost its defense capabilities. On Saturday Iran dismissed a French call for negotiations on Tehran’s future nuclear plans, its ballistic missile arsenal and its role in wars in Syria and Yemen, following the US pullout from Iran’s 2015 nuclear agreement.
Iran executes three
In another development, Iran executed three Iranian Kurdish men accused of belonging to a militant group and taking part in attacks against civilians and security forces in the Kurdish region of western Iran, the judiciary’s news service reported on Saturday. The executions took place despite a call on Friday for them to be halted by two UN human rights special rapporteurs, Javaid Rehman and Agnes Callamard, who said in a statement that the men had not been given a fair trial.
Amnesty International said the accused men had been denied access to their lawyers after being arrested and had said they were tortured into making confessions. “We are horrified by the news that the Iranian authorities have executed these men, despite widespread condemnation of their death sentences and calls from UN human rights experts and other bodies to halt their executions,” Philip Luther, Amnesty International’s research and advocacy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement on Saturday.
The judiciary’s Mizan news service said Loqman Moradi and Zanyar Moradi were accused of carrying out an attack in the western town of Marivan in July 2009 that killed three people, including the son of a prominent cleric. Ramin Hossein Panahi was accused of participating in an assault targeting security forces in the town of Sanandaj in June 2017. Iran has one of the world’s highest execution rates. According to Amnesty International, 51 percent of all recorded executions in 2017 were carried out in Iran. – Agencies