Iran is to unveil a new fighter jet next week and continue developing missile capabilities as a top priority, Iranian Minister of Defense Brigadier General Amir Hatami said on Saturday, defying new US sanctions aimed at curbing Tehran’s missile program and regional influence.
The Islamic Republic of Iran Navy on Saturday announced that it has mounted a locally built advanced defensive weapons system on one of its warships for the first time as tensions mount with the US military in the Persian Gulf.
US President Donald Trump in May withdrew the US from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers that curbed Tehran’s nuclear activity in exchange for sanctions relief.
Trump said that the deal was deeply flawed, as it had not curbed Iran’s ballistic missile program or reined in its support for proxies in conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.
Iran has dismissed any direct talks with Washington to resolve the issues raised by Trump.
“Our top priority has been development of our missile program. We are in a good position in this field, but we need to develop it,” Hatami was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency.
“We will present a plane on National Defense Industry Day and people will see it fly, and the equipment designed for it,” Hatami added.
Iran celebrates National Defense Industry Day on Wednesday
Iran in 2013 unveiled what it said was a new, domestically built fighter jet, called Qaher 313, but some experts expressed doubts about the viability of the aircraft at the time.
Iran’s functional air force has been limited to perhaps as few as a few dozen strike aircraft, either Russian or aging US models acquired before the 1979 Iranian revolution.
Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi on Saturday said that “coastal and sea testing of the short-range defense Kamand system were concluded successfully,” and said the system was “mounted ... on a warship and will be mounted on a second ship soon,” the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.
The Iranian Page semi-protected Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) earlier this month said that it held war games in the Gulf aimed at “confronting possible threats” by enemies.
US Central Command said that it had seen increased Iranian naval activity, extending to the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic waterway for oil shipments that the IRGC has threatened to block.
Iran has developed a large domestic arms industry in the face of international sanctions and embargoes that have barred it from importing many weapons.
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