Ayatollah Khamenei: US sanctions ‘a criminal act’
The Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei said Saturday that Iran must become strong enough to ward off the “enemy’s threats” and prevent a war.
“We must become strong so that there will not be a war, become strong so that the enemy’s threats will end,” Ayatollah Khamenei told a gathering of Air Force commanders and staff.
Every year on February 8, Iranian Air Force commanders and staff meet the Leader to mark the historic allegiance of Iranian Air Force officers with the late founder of the Islamic Republic Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini back on February 8, 1979.
The meeting is viewed as a turning point which led to the victory of the Islamic Revolution three days later.
Iran is marking the 41st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, which toppled the US-backed Shah Mohammad-Reza Pahlavi.
“We do not seek to threaten any country… this is to maintain the country’s security and to prevent threats,” the Leader added.
Tensions escalated between Tehran and Washington after a January 3 US drone strike assassinated top Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad. Iran retaliated days later by firing a wave of missiles at American troops stationed in Iraq.
Ayatollah Khamenei said Iran has managed to “paralyze” its enemies, and has developed its own “sophisticated” means of defense in response to the enemy’s use of increasingly advanced measures against Iran.
He also said Iran had a strong Air Force despite decades of US pressure and sanctions on the country since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, dismissing the sanctions as “a criminal act”.
“Just as the Air Force has managed to design and create fighter jets on top of overhauling and repairing its aircraft and fighter jets despite US sanctions, this model can be applied to the whole country and, despite sanctions being a criminal act, such an approach can create a lot of opportunities for the country,” the Leader said.
Ayatollah Khamenei added that “certain clever individuals in the US establishment have understood this and have said that we should not allow Iran to experience an economy without oil.”
“Therefore, they say that we should leave a path open so that the Iranian economy doesn’t become detached from oil,” the leader said, urging Iranian officials to be vigilant against such a plot.
In May 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.
Top EU diplomat Josep Borrel visited Tehran last week on a mission aimed at lowering tensions over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program, which has been crumbling since the US withdrawal.
A year after the US pullout, Iran began to step 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.
Speaking about the US administration of President Donald Trump, Ayatollah Khamenei said that “unlike Washington’s former rulers which pursued evil goals with a certain disguise, today, deviation, war mongering, sedition and the greed of Americans take place without any cover.”
AFP, Reuters and Press TV contributed to this story.