Iran Plans Military Spending Increase, Long-Range Missile Development

Iranian parliamentarians voted on Monday to increase the country’s military spending to five percent of the budget and advance its development of long-range ballistic missiles.

The measure also prioritizes “developing and increasing the power to produce missiles,” improving Iran’s air defense power, and “developing and strengthening electronic warfare and cyber defense capabilities,” the Tasnim News Agency reported. (Then-United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon wrote in a confidential report to the Security Council last month that Iran’s ballistic missile program was “not consistent with the constructive spirit” of the nuclear deal.)

The boost to Iran’s defense budget is in line with a growth plan Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei put forward in July 2015, the month the country agreed to the nuclear deal with global powers.

Sanctions relief as part of the deal is expected to contribute to an estimated four percent annual economic growth in Iran over the next five years, according to a study conducted last June. The projected growth raises doubts about frequent Iranian claims that it is not seeing economic benefits from the nuclear deal.

Saeed Ghasseminejad, an associate fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, wrote in a policy brief in September that “there is no longer any doubt that the money the United States has paid to Iran will go to the Islamic Republic’s armed forces. It remains unclear how the military will spend it – potentially to prop up the Syrian regime, Hezbollah, Shiite militias in Iraq, or Houthi rebels in Yemen, or to buy heavy weaponry from Russia in contravention of the UN arms embargo.” The long-term effect of sanctions relief, Ghasseminejad warned, “will help finance Tehran’s overriding objectives: spreading its revolution and further destabilizing the Middle East.”

U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said in 2015 that “Iran is expected to use new revenues chiefly to address those needs, including by shoring up its budget, building infrastructure, maintaining the stability of the rial, and attracting imports,” rather than funding terrorism. President Barack Obama similarly said in a speech that August that “our best analysts expect the bulk of this revenue to go into spending that improves the economy and benefits the lives of the Iranian people.”

[Photo: Fars News ]