These claims drew immediate scrutiny for not stacking up, with Twitter users questioning whether the account was a parody.
While the new 3.4-metre medium-class optical telescope of the Iranian National Observatory on Mt Gargash in central Iran is large, there are at least 40 bigger facilities worldwide. And when the President’s Office for Science and Technology announced an Iranian-developed gene therapy for cancer last week, it said it was a copy of a method already in production by two multinational companies, not a new treatment.
As for the Revolutionary Guard aerospace force’s claim earlier this month that it had successfully developed a hypersonic missile, the Pentagon later said it was “sceptical of these reports”.
While the claims by the Supreme Leader may have been overhyped, his motivations revealed a deep insecurity in the face of nationwide protests. “These advancements increase the state’s authority and strength,” he said. “The enemy won’t dare to bother you if you increase your authority and strength. Such advancements will make us self-sufficient and strong.”
For over a decade, the Supreme Leader has spoken of the need for a “resistance economy” able to counteract the effect of Western sanctions by making Iran less reliant on the global economy and foreign technology.
But with the ongoing protests representing an internal challenge to the Islamic republic, the 83-year-old Supreme Leader has characterised the nationwide movement as a Western and Israeli orchestrated plot.