Iran sustains military spending in face of US sanctions

TEHRAN, Feb. 24 (MNA) –The military aide to the Iranian Leader Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan announced that Iran has sustained its military spending in the face of debilitating US sanctions, dismissing the Trump administration’s claims that its maximum pressure strategy has forced Tehran to slash its defense budgets.

Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan told the Financial Times that Tehran had not “made any cuts to the budgets of our military organisations”.

“Militarily, today we are definitely in a better situation than three years ago when Mr Trump came to power, in all aspects — from staff, organisation to equipment. And we will be better in five years if Mr Trump is re-elected,” said Gen. Dehghan.

“In the region, since the formation of ISIL and the rise of insecurity, we have used all our capacity to organize, train and consult our allies.”

Providing a rare glimpse into the theocratic leadership’s thinking, Gen Dehghan hinted at Tehran’s survival strategy: no retreat from sponsoring regional militant groups or developing its missile program; no talks with Washington but avoid all-out war; and a bet that Mr Trump’s policies will ultimately serve Iran by fuelling anti-American sentiment and empowering its proxies.

The US strategy “is costing them and it costs us. But who is the winner now? Today, we believe our influence in the region has increased despite all this pressure,” said Gen Dehghan. “We will never abandon our regional allies . . . We are not players, we are revolutionaries.”

When questioned about US and Israeli allegations that Iran has helped Lebanon’s Hizbollah and Iraqi militias to set up missile manufacturing plants in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, Gen. Dehghan said: “If they ask us for help, we will.”

Gen. Dehghan added “complimentary blows will happen over time” with the aim of driving US forces from the region. But he said that Tehran would not stage attacks against the US “unless America does [against Iran]”.

He said Iran “saw no reason to order” its proxies to act, but would not “prevent them from acting”.

Gen. Dehghan reiterated that Iran did not want a “full-blown war” with the US, but said negotiations would be pointless.

“The US thinks we are in a weak position and need to negotiate,” he said. “The US wants to negotiate with us to say ‘why do you have missiles, why are you present in the region and why do you have military capabilities?’ What kind of negotiations are these?”

MNA/FT

News Code 155996

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