(BY: Recently re-elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani lashed out at the Trump administration this week, describing it as ignorant and saying that Iran “needs missiles” to confront the United States and its allies, according to recent remarks certain to rile leaders in Washington, D.C.
Just days after President Donald Trump blasted the Islamic Republic for its illicit ballistic missile program and support of terrorism in the Middle East, Rouhani confirmed that Iran would not cease its missile activity, despite repeated calls by U.S. officials.
“We need missiles and the enemy should know that we make everything we need and we don’t pay an iota of attention to your words,” Rouhani was quoted as saying on Wednesday during a meeting with Iranian cabinet members. “The remarks by the enemies of the Iranian nation against Iran’s missile power are out of ignorance.”
The Iranian leaders remarks support recent comments by senior military leaders in the country, who have repeatedly declared that Iran will “never stop” developing ballistic missiles, a program that has raised concerns with the U.S. intelligence community, which assesses that Iran’s missile program could be used to carry a nuclear weapon.
The remarks came as Iran announced the construction of a third underground ballistic missile production factory, helmed by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC.
Iranian General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, and IRGC leader, said the factory is meant to boosts Tehran’s “missile power” and intimidate the United States and “Zionist regime,” or Israel.
“We will increase our missile power. Our enemies, the United States, and the Zionist regime (Israel) are naturally upset and get angry at our missile production, tests and underground missile facilities because they want Iran to be in a weak position,” Hajizadeh announced on Thursday.
The facility was built in the last few years, according to the IRGC. Iranian military leaders also are working on building Iran’s first “ground-to-ground” ballistic missile.
Iran’s repeated test firing of ballistic missiles, as well as its multiple space launches—which are believed to be cover for an intercontinental ballistic missile program—have riled the Trump administration and leaders of both parties on Capitol Hill.
A bipartisan delegation of nearly 50 senators announced on Thursday that it is moving forward with new legislation to increase economic sanctions on Iran as a result of its missile program, as well as the Islamic Republic’s support for terrorism and illegal weapons trade.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D., N.J.), a chief sponsor of the legislation, said that it is part of a larger effort to ensure that “Iran’s leaders understand they do not enjoy blanket impunity as the United States continues to live up to its commitments under the” nuclear agreement.