INTERVIEW WITH ALHURRA TV, LEBANON - 24 JUNE 2024

INTERVIEW – ALHURRA TV, LEBANON

24 JUNE, 2024

 - What are the most advanced technologies and capabilities of the Iranian military? Drone, Ballistic Missiles that can reach southern Europe.

  - How is the Iranian military structured, particularly the relationship between the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and the regular military? The conventional army is subordinate to the IRGC. All of its commanders are IRGC. In order words, officers from the IRGC are put in charge of the regular army.  There are also political and ideological branches within the regular armed forces, headed by the cleric, to ensure that the rank-and-file remain loyal to the supreme leader. This is also an attempt to forestall any dissident within the lower ranks of the IRGC who are not repeating the benefits, which their billionaire commanders reap for their control of 70 percent of the Iranian economy, oil, petrochemicals, gas, etc.

  - What are the key branches and units within the Iranian military, and what are their primary functions? The IRGC has five forces. Ground Force, Air Force, Navy, Aerospace Force, the Quds Force (for extraterritorial activities), and the paramilitary bassij, the regime’s shock troopers who are on the front line of cracking down on dissent internally. The IRGC also has its own sprawling intelligence service, called the IRGC Intelligence Organization, which operates separately from the Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS).

  - How does Iran's military doctrine influence its regional and global military strategies?

The regime primarily does this through its proxy group, which it has created, financed, trained and maintained ever since it took part in 1979. The Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Houthis in Yemen, the Shia militias in Iraq, the Islamic Jihad in Palestine are just a few examples. It of course has provided millions of dollars to Hamas, and more than 67 billion dollars in the form oil and cash payment to Bashar Al Asad in Syria. Add to that its provision drones to Russia, and ballistic missiles and drones and all sorts of miliary hardware to the Houthis in Yemen, and you realize the manner in which it influences regional and global military strategies. The supreme leader and other officials have said time and again that if we don’t fight beyond our own borders, we have to fight our people at home. For them Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, and Sanaa represent the strategic depth as they have called it.

  - How does Iran leverage proxy forces and allied militias in the Middle East?

Buy arming, financing and training them, it wreaks havoc in its neighboring countries, influences its political direction, like in Iraq and Lebanon, influences the election process, and eliminates its opponents in these countries. It also uses them to attack commercial shipping and disrupt maritime navigation in international waters. And of course, it no secret that it was behind the Oct. 7 attack, that marked a seismic shift in the geopolitics of the region. 

  - What is the current status of Iran's nuclear program and its potential for weaponization?It is rapidly advancing. The fatally flawed joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA) did nothing to address the weaponization aspect of the nuclear program and had no operative clauses against it. And by hindering IAEA inspectors, the Agency, as stated by its Director General has no idea as to the current state of the nuclear program. Tehran has refused to prove satisfactory answers to the outstanding questions about the weaponization aspect of its nuclear program and the detection of uranium particles in four undeclare sites in Tehran and elsewhere. 

As we speak, revelations by the Iranian opposition, NCRI/MEK have conclusively shown that Tehran’s nuclear program has always been focused on developing a nuclear bomb, and this program is controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The weaponization aspect of Iran's nuclear activities has not only persisted but has also expanded and improved over time, all while avoiding significant international scrutiny. This expansion underscores the urgent need for comprehensive and robust inspection regimes to ensure transparency and prevent the development of nuclear weapons. The international community must remain vigilant and proactive in addressing this ongoing threat to global security.

 - What is the scale and scope of Iran's defense budget, and how does it sustain its military expenditures?

First of all, in Iran opaque system, the actual numbers always remain  a secret. But was has become officially available shows that the regime military budget, both the IRGC and the conventional army far exceeds the budget for let’s say the education, health, and other social programs. In the fiscal year 2023, For the fiscal year beginning in March 2023, Raisi’s budget bill included a whopping 131% increase for the IRGC from roughly $1.24 billion to about $2.89 billion. It is important to note that the IRGC has both official and “unofficial” income streams since it dominates the country’s economy.  

This bill increases the budgets of the police force by 44%, the Ministry of Intelligence and Security by 52%, the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) by 42%, and the Foundation for the Protection of Sacred Defense by 159%.