TEHRAN (Dispatches) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the Zionist regime is in no position to call Iran a threat to the Middle East, stressing the development of the country’s missile program is aimed at safeguarding peace and security.
"Those who have over the past 70 years created tension, launched wars and caused destruction in the region and have committed genocide and caused [the] Sabra and Shatila [massacre] are in no position to portray Iran as a threat,” Rouhani said during a cabinet session on Wednesday.
"Iran is no threat to anyone. Iran is [the pillar] of stability and security for the entire region. But of course it will strongly defend its rights,” he added.
The Iranian president made the remarks a day after Zionist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that Iran was responsible for "darkness descending" on the Middle East and said the occupying regime faced threats from the Islamic Republic.
In a hawkish address to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in Washington on Tuesday, Netanyahu also alleged that Iran was increasing its influence in the Middle East and sought to dominate regional countries.
Rouhani criticized attempts by certain nations of the region to promote Iranophobia, saying Iran had never invaded and would not invade any country.
"History shows that the Iranian nation has never… occupied any country. We have never bombarded our neighbors or piled up pressure on regional nations. Not only haven’t we driven people out of their countries, but we have welcomed refugees,” he noted.
Iran seeks the progress and prosperity of all regional countries, Rouhani said, stressing Iran’s economic, political and military power was for deterrence not attacking other countries.
"Our weapons are meant to promote peace, strengthen stability and security, and to prevent others from thinking about invading our country. Therefore, no one should be concerned about Iran’s weapons, missiles or strengthening of its defense might,” Rouhani stressed.
In remarks in February, Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei called for efforts to maintain and boost Iran’s defense capabilities, hitting back at the enemies for disputing the country’s missile program.
"Without a moment of hesitation, the country must move to acquire whatever is necessary for defense, even if the whole world is opposed to it,” Ayatollah Khamenei said, describing plans to develop and renovate Iran’s defense strategies and equipment as a top priority.