Iran 'Determined' to Strengthen Military After Record U.S.-Israel Aid Deal

Iranian military parade in Tehran
Iranian soldiers march during the Army Day parade, Tehran, April 17, 2015. Chavosh Homavandi/AFP/Getty Images

Iran is "determined" to bolster its military further in light of the record $38 billion aid deal struck between the United States and Israel last week, Tehran's top military chief said on Tuesday.

Iranian chief of staff of the armed forces General Mohammad Hossein Bagheri said that the deal, which will see Washington give Israel the unprecedented amount over the course of 10 years, "will make us more determined in strengthening the defense power of the country."

He made the comments in a live broadcast on Iranian state television during an annual military parade to commemorate the anniversary of the Iraq-Iran War in 1980, the Associated Press reported.

Iran refuses to recognize Israel and its conservative religious leadership and routinely threatens Israel with destruction. It also refers to the U.S. as "the devil" in rhetoric aimed at appeasing hardliners in the country. Tehran is suspicious of the intentions of western powers and Israel towards the country and views the record military aid deal as the strengthening of one of its main enemies in the Middle East.

Tehran struck a deal with the U.S. and other world powers in July 2015 to lift a crippling international sanctions regime on its economy. This was in return for scaling down its nuclear program alongside a dismantling of its centrifuges that could have been used to enrich and produce nuclear-ready uranium.

But its top religious figure, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has spoken of his distrust of Washington and has threatened to burn the agreement if the U.S. does not uphold its side of the deal.

The prospect of a Donald Trump presidency threatens the agreement as the Republican presidential candidate has talked tough on what he says is a deal that threatens Israel's security, pledging to take Iran to task over its nuclear ambitions if he comes to power.

Israel opposes the nuclear deal, comparing it to European appeasement of Nazi Germany in the signing of the 1938 Munich Agreement. While the record U.S.-Israel aid deal has faced domestic criticism for not being tangible enough, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lauded the agreement as a sign of Washington's support for Israel's security.