January 28, 2019
Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Bagheri announced on Sunday that Iran would change its defense strategy to “offensive” to defend its national interests.
He stressed that his country will not remain idle against any threat, denying any ambitions to impose hegemony on the interests and territories of other countries.
Speaking to reporters, Bagheri said Iran has no intention of attacking any country, stressing that “our defense strategy is to protect the independence, territorial integrity and national interests of our country.”
Should Tehran sense any sign or evidence of any imminent attack against its territory, it would adopt an offensive approach in confronting it, he added, hinting at the possibility of preemptive strikes against targets Iran regards as a threat.
“If there is any intention of attack against our interests, and we see evidence of it, we will not remain passive and allow the country’s security and peace to be threatened,” he warned.
Moreover, he stressed that his country’s military behavior is “defensive, not impulsive,” claiming that switching to an offensive approach does not mean violating, attacking or having an interest in the territory of any other country.
Bagheri’s comments were made as the US prepares to hold a conference on the Middle East in Warsaw in February.
The conference has deepened concerns in Tehran, especially as it coincided with controversy over the US decision to withdraw its forces from Afghanistan and Syria, an issue that has proven to be divisive among Iranians.
On the one hand, circles close to the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) saw the US move as evidence of the progress of Iran’s regional strategy, while on the other, nationalist circles involved in the reformist movement expressed fears that Washington may launch strikes against Iran.
This is not the first time that Iran announces a shift in defense strategies.
In August 2016, and in response to US President Donald Trump’s electoral campaign speeches, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei called for changing the armed forces’ approach, by boosting their offensive capabilities and not betting on negotiations.
“It is wrong to believe we can reach an agreement and common understanding through negotiations,” he said at the time.
He attributed his orders to “the sensitivity of the situation in West Asia” and called on senior commanders of the armed forces to produce different weapons other than chemical.
He did, however, point out to the importance of producing what he considered the “defensive” aspect of chemical weapons.