Iran's priority is developing missiles for export to allies: Defence minister
Iran's new defence minister said on Saturday that the country’s priority is to boost its missile programme and export weapons to shore up neighbouring allies.
"In combat fields, especially in missiles, we have a specific plan to boost Iran's missile power," said General Amir Hatami, who was appointed defence minister earlier this month, in a speech carried by the ISNA news agency.
"God willing, the combat capabilities of Iran's ballistic and cruise missiles will increase in this term," he added.
Hatami also said Iran would look to export weapons "to prevent war and conflict".
"Wherever a country becomes weak, others become encouraged to raid it ... Wherever necessary, we will export weapons to increase the security of the region and countries, to prevent wars," he said.
Israel has in recent years repeatedly struck convoys believed to be transferring advanced rockets and missiles through Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Times of Israel said.
The US has also imposed fresh sanctions on Iran because of its continued missile programme.
Hatami is the first defence minister to be selected from the regular army, rather than the elite Revolutionary Guards, in more than two decades.
Analysts say this reflects an increasing convergence between the two military arms as Iran increases its involvement in regional conflicts such as those in Syria and Iraq, which have previously been the Guards' exclusive purview.