Iran leader urges military to increase ‘preparedness’

Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, shows him attending a meeting in Tehran on April 9, 2015 (AFP Photo)

Tehran (AFP) – Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged the country’s armed forces Sunday to increase their “defensive preparedness”, hitting out at a US warning of possible military action.

He told commanders and troops in a speech that Iran “will never accept such stupid remarks”, a jab at General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, though he did not name him.

Dempsey said Thursday that should ongoing diplomacy with Iran fail, “the military option… to ensure that Iran does not achieve a nuclear weapon is intact.”

The United States has long said targeted bombing of Iran’s nuclear sites and other key facilities may be needed if Tehran — which denies seeking the bomb — does not rein in its atomic activities.

“All bodies from the ministry of defence to the army and the Sepah (Revolutionary Guards) should increase their military and defensive preparedness. This should be regarded as an official directive,” Khamenei said.

His response comes after Iran and six world powers led by the US agreed on April 2 on the key parameters of a nuclear deal, the hard details of which are due to be agreed by the end of June.

“After a period of silence by the other side, one of its officials has once again recently talked of options on the table,” Khamenei said.

“On the one hand they bluff, and on the other hand, they say the Islamic Republic of Iran should halt its defensive advancements which is a stupid remark.

“Iran will never accept such stupid remarks and the nation has proved that if it is attacked, it will defend itself quite powerfully. It will stand united and like a strong fist against illogical aggressors.”