Reinforcing the line of Iran’s defiance of US sanctions, President Hassan Rouhani’s nominee for Defense Minister has pledged to boost Tehran’s missile capacity.
Brigadier General Amir Hatami (pictured) said on Thursday in Parliamentary hearings on Cabinet nominees, “In the next four years, apart from enhancing combat and defense capabilities, we will devote a special effort to boost missile and ballistic power, strategic air power as well as strategic maritime power and increase rapid reaction forces.”
Hatami declared that Iran’s has ensured security, despite a projected $110 billion US arms deal with Tehran’s rival Saudi Arabia, achieving “high defense deterrence power”. He said “many of the governments” which imposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic “are now trying to develop cooperation with Iran”.
New US sanctions, adopted by Congress last month, have pushed the Rouhani Government into a harder line over military issues and the July 2015 nuclear deal. With Parliament passing a largely-symbolic bill for counter-sanctions, Rouhani and his ministers have pledged a “proportionate response”. Earlier this week, the President indicated for the first time that Iran might leave the deal and return to enrichment of 20% uranium — which potentially can be further enriched to 95% and military use — if Washington imposes the new restrictions.
Hatami has drawn attention as the first officer outside the Revolutionary Guards to be nominated as Defense Minister in 20 years; however, the Guards have not lobbied against him and no MP spoke against him on Thursday.
So far, Rouhani’s nominees have not provoked any notable opposition, with the President balancing centrists and conservatives in his new Cabinet. There was some questioning of the Communications and Information Technology Minister, the 36-year-old Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi, because of his role in interrogating political detainees during the protests over the disputed 2009 Presidential election.
Rouhani has been criticized for not including any women, but this appears unlikely to block any specific male candidate.