Khamenei: We don't threaten anyone but must be strong

Iran's Supreme Leader says his country must become strong enough to ward off the "enemy's threats".

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Saturday that the Islamic Republic must become strong enough to ward off the "enemy's threats" and prevent a war, even though it does not want to threaten anyone.

Speaking at a gathering of air force commanders and staff and quoted by AFP, Khamenei also said Iran had a strong air force despite decades of US pressure and sanctions on the country since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

"We must become strong so that there will not be a war, become strong so that enemy's threats will end," he said.

"We do not want to threaten anyone... this is to prevent threats, to maintain the country's security," added Khamenei.

Tensions escalated between Tehran and Washington after a January 3 US drone strike killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad.

Iran later retaliated by firing ballistic missiles at American troops stationed in Iraq.

"Our Air Force, which had no right to and couldn't even repair parts of aircrafts (before the revolution) now builds planes," Khamenei was quoted as saying on Saturday.

"Sanctions are literally crimes, BUT they can be turned into opportunities," he added.

US President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers and reimposed sanctions on Iran.

In response, Iran gradually scaled back its compliance with the 2015 deal, before announcing last month that it will abandon the deal altogether following the killing of Soleimani.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said several weeks ago that Iran is not ruling out negotiations with the United States but conditioned such negotiations on Washington lifting sanctions.