A senior commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps, IRGC, has said that Iran’s military budget is $7 billion and Iran is the “fourth cyber power” in the world.
ISNA quotes Mohammad Hossein Sepehr, deputy to Supreme Leader’s representative in IRGC, who has drawn a parallel with neighboring countries, saying that Pakistan’s military budget is $8 billion, UAE’s $15 billion and Saudi Arabia’s $30 billion.
However, General Sepehr’s numbers are much less than what President Hassan Rouhani’s government has submitted in his new budget to parliament. In that proposal, Iran’s military budget is more than $10 billion.
Hossein Aryan, Radio Farda’s military analyst says the Islamic Republic spends much more than $7 billion on its armed forces. According to The Military Balance, an annual publication of International Institute for Strategic Studies, Aryan explains, the Islamic Republic’s expenditure in 2016 was nearly $16 billion.
Aryan also says that Iran’s real military budget is almost equal to that of UAE, while Saudi Arabia spends more than $80 billion annually. The reason for the relatively high military budgets of oil -rich Arab countries is the amount of expensive hardware they purchase.
Rouhani’s spokesperson had earlier announced that Iran’s military budget is about $10 billion, with a 128 percent increase in the last four years. Part of this huge increase is probably compensation for the drop in the value of Iranian currency and double-digit inflation.
In fact, what the government has announced might not be the real military budget. Iran treats military and intelligence matters as highly sensitive and does fully reveal full information.
The IRGC also has an impressive economic empire in Iran, and it is possible to assume that part of the profits from its business ventures return to help boost the military budget. That would not be reflected in Rouhani’s proposed budget, the same way income of religious foundations who receive outlays from the government, are not reflected in the country’s budget.
Aryan also points out to military expenditures which fall outside the routine operations and upkeep of the armed forces.
Iran spends billions of dollars annually in Syria, where it maintains the presence of hundreds of military “advisors” and tens of thousands of para-military forces fighting to save Bashar al-Assad’s regime. In addition to forces on the ground, the Islamic Republic probably foots the bill also for a substantial part of the military equipment Assad needs for his own forces.
Apart from Syria, Iran also spends billions in Iraq, Yemen and supporting Hezbollah in Lebanon. In Iraq alone, Iran equips, trains and pays salaries to thousands of militiamen it can use to project power within Iraq or in Syria.
Sepehr also claimed that Iran the fourth most powerful cyber power in the world, without substantiating the basis of his claim.
Aryan says Iran had made the same claim back in 2013 and Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies had confirmed Iran’s is a serious cyber power.
Western countries have blamed Iran for a number of complicated hacking operations around the world.