DUBAI (Reuters) – Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards on Sunday to develop more advanced and modern weapons, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported, amid rising regional tensions.
“The Guards should have advanced and modern weapons … Your weapons should be modern and updated. It should be developed at home. You need to develop and produce your weapons,” Khamenei said in a speech at Imam Hussein Military University in Tehran.
Tensions in the Gulf have spiked since the United States, Saudi Arabia, Britain, France and Germany publicly blamed Iran for Sept. 14 attacks on the world’s biggest crude oil-processing facility in Saudi Arabia.
“Today the Guards have a powerful presence inside and outside Iran…America’s hostile approach has increased the Guards’ greatness,” Khamenei said.
Iran has denied involvement in the Saudi attacks, which were claimed by Iran-aligned Houthi forces in Yemen.
The United States plans to deploy about 3,000 troops to Saudi Arabia, including fighter squadrons, an air expeditionary wing and air defence personnel, amid heightened tensions with the Saudis’ arch-rival Iran.
Relations between the United States and Iran have deteriorated sharply since President Donald Trump pulled out last year from world powers’ 2015 nuclear deal with Iran and reimposed sanctions on Iranian oil exports.
(Writing by Parisa Hafezi; Editing by Mark Heinrich)