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Monday, January 9, 2017

Iran to expand military spending, develop missiles

DUBAI (Reuters) - Iranian lawmakers approved plans on Monday to expand military spending to five percent of the budget, including developing the country's long-range missile program which U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has pledged to halt.
The vote is a boost to Iran's military establishment – the regular army, the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and defense ministry - which was allocated almost 2 percent of the 2015-16 budget.
But it could put the Islamic Republic on a collision course with the incoming Trump administration, and fuel criticism from other Western states which say Tehran's recent ballistic missile tests are inconsistent with a U.N. resolution on Iran.
The resolution, adopted last year as part of the deal to curb Iran's nuclear activities, calls on Iran to refrain from work on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons. Tehran says it has not carried out any work on missiles specifically designed to carry such payloads.
Tasnim news agency said 173 lawmakers voted in favor of an article in Iran's five-year development plan that "requires government to increase Iran's defense capabilities as a regional power and preserve the country's national security and interests by allocating at least five percent of annual budget" to military affairs.
Only 10 lawmakers voted against the plan, which includes developing long range missiles, armed drones and cyber-war capabilities.
The Obama administration says Iran's ballistic missile tests have not violated the nuclear agreement with Tehran, but Trump, who criticized the accord as "the worst deal ever negotiated", has said he would stop Iran's missile program.
"Those ballistic missiles, with a range of 1,250 miles, were designed to intimidate not only Israel ... but also intended to frighten Europe and someday maybe hit even the United States," he told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee AIPAC in March. "We're not going to let that happen."
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