Khamenei says war unlikely but urges boosting Iran’s defenses

Ayatollah Khamenei emphasized that based on political calculations there is no likelihood of a military war. (File/AFP/HO/Khameni.ir)
Updated 02 September 2018

Khamenei says war unlikely but urges boosting Iran’s defenses

  • Ayatollah Khamenei emphasized that based on political calculations there is no likelihood of a military war
  • Iran’s supreme leader called on the country’s armed forces to boost their defense capacities

DUBAI: Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Sunday war was unlikely but called on Iran’s armed forces to boost their defense capacities, according to his official website, as the country faces increased tension with the United States.
On Saturday, Iran announced plans to boost its ballistic and cruise missile capacity and acquire modern fighter planes and submarines to boost its defenses following the US pullout from Tehran’s nuclear agreement with world powers.
“Ayatollah Khamenei emphasised that based on political calculations there is no likelihood of a military war but added that the armed forces must be vigilant ... and raise their personnel and equipment capacities,” the website quoted Khamenei as telling commanders of Iran’s air defense forces.
“The Supreme Leader said ...the air defense units were a very sensitive part of the armed forces and on the front line of confronting the enemy, and emphasized the need to increase their readiness and capabilities,” the website said in its report on the gathering, which was held to mark Iran’s Air Defense Day.
Saturday’s news of the military development plans came a day after Iran dismissed a French call for negotiations on Tehran’s future nuclear plans, its ballistic missile arsenal and its role in wars in Syria and Yemen.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said last month the Islamic Republic’s military prowess was what deterred Washington from attacking it.
Separately, a senior Iranian diplomat met visiting UK Junior Foreign Minister Alistair Burt and urged swift European action on a planned package of economic measures to offset the US pullout from the accord and the reimpositions of sanctions by Washington, the state news agency IRNA reported.
“The imposition of (US) sanctions and pressures and the lack of rapid action by Europe to fulfill their commitments will have serious consequences,” Kamal Kharrazi, a former foreign minister who heads a top foreign policy council, told Burt, IRNA reported.
Iranian officials have said they would decide whether to quit the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers after studying the European package of economic measures that could help offset US sanctions.
“European countries have not been able yet to take necessary measures to secure Iran’s interests under the nuclear agreement,” Kharrazi said.
“(Burt) said Britain’s position is different from that of the United States and we are looking for a European mechanism to make the nuclear accord successful,” IRNA reported.
In a meeting with senior parliamentarian Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, Burt referred to the case of a British-Iranian dual national detained in Iran, IRNA reported.
“I thank Iran for its humanitarian act to grant Nazanin Zaghari furlough and her meeting with her family, and we hope that this approach will continue until the release and the pardon of such people,” Burt said, according to IRNA.
Britain is seeking the release of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, a project manager with the Thomson Reuters Foundation. She was arrested in April 2016 at Tehran airport as she was heading back to Britain with her daughter, now aged four, after a family visit. She was released for three days last month.
Burt, on the first visit by a British minister since US President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal, earlier met Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Saturday the talks with Burt had involved “access to banking resources and the sale of oil.”
Iran has been seeking commitment from European signatories of the nuclear deal that it will be able to access the Western banking system and continue to sell oil despite US sanctions.
In a statement before his visit, Burt said: “As long as Iran meets its commitments under the deal, we remain committed to it as we believe it is the best way to ensure a safe, secure future for the region.”


‘Make yourself invaluable’: Carlos Ghosn offers executive training in troubled Lebanon

Updated 5 min 4 sec ago

‘Make yourself invaluable’: Carlos Ghosn offers executive training in troubled Lebanon

  • The Lebanese-French executive has unveiled a plan to shake up the business school at the Université Saint-Esprit de Kaslik
  • Ghosn plans programs to coach top executives, offer technology training and help start-ups that will create jobs

BEIRUT: Carlos Ghosn, the former Nissan and Renault head who fled Japan where he was facing trial, is launching a university management and business program in Lebanon, a nation mired in a deep crisis blamed on years of misrule, mismanagement and corruption.
Nine months after his dramatic escape to Beirut from Tokyo, the Lebanese-French executive has unveiled a plan to shake up the business school at the Université Saint-Esprit de Kaslik (USEK), a private university north of the Lebanese capital.
Ghosn, credited with turning round the Japanese and French carmakers before he faced charges of financial wrongdoing that he denies, plans programs to coach top executives, offer technology training and help start-ups that will create jobs.
Ghosn, a fugitive from a Japanese justice system he says was rigged against him, has found refuge in his childhood home Lebanon where the economy is collapsing under debts amassed since the 1975-1990 civil war. A devastating blast in Beirut on Aug. 4 compounded Lebanon’s woes.
“Obviously I am not interested in politics but I will dedicate time and effort into supporting Lebanon during this difficult period,” he told Reuters at the weekend, ahead of Tuesday’s formal launch during a press conference of his new university program.
“This is about creating jobs, employment and entrepreneurs to allow society to take its role into the reconstruction of the country,” Ghosn told a press conference at USEK on Tuesday.
Ghosn, who was approached by USEK in the weeks after arriving in Lebanon at the end of December, said the programs aimed to offer practical help. He will help supervise.
Drawing on his experience, the focus for the executive program would be turning around companies in trouble, corporations struggling with a troubled environment and how to “make yourself invaluable” in a company.
Ghosn said several international executives had agreed to give pro bono courses, such as Jaguar and Land Rover Chief Executive Thierry Bolloré, former Goldman Sachs vice-chairman Ken Curtis and venture capitalist Raymond Debbane.
The short courses, expected to start in March, would be open to 15 to 20 senior executives in Lebanon and the Middle East.
‘ROLE MODEL’
“The role model is my experience, what I think are the basic needs of a top executive in a very competitive environment,” he said, adding that, when he was in charge, Nissan’s executive training program in Japan had been open to other companies.
The second USEK program, subsidised by the executive program, would train people on new technologies, such as computer-assisted design and artificial intelligence.
Ghosn said Lebanon’s jewelry exporters were among those who would benefit from the use of software to help with designs.
The third program would act as an incubator for start-ups, and he aimed to invest in two projects. “I am mainly interested in projects that have environmental impact,” he said, citing the example of a project to turn sewage into fertilizer.
“You are creating entrepreneurs which are badly needed, you are creating employment,” he said, adding he had been persuaded to work with USEK by the president of the Maronite Christian institution, Father Talal Hachem, and his young team.
Ghosn said he had also chosen to work with USEK, rather than some of the bigger Lebanese universities, because he liked the idea of working with an institution that drew in a broad range of students, not just the wealthy.
“These students need help more than anybody else. This is the class that has been smashed by the situation today,” he told Reuters.
“I’m going to help in the way I can,” he said. “I’m going to help build the economy by helping to solve problems that every Lebanese is facing today.”