Iran warned Israel and the United States against any aggression, as it proudly paraded its troops and military hardware on Friday under the gaze of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and top brass.
The Tehran parade, involving thousands of military personnel, dozens of tanks and missiles borne on trucks, marked the anniversary of the start of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.
Ahmadinejad, in a speech broadcast on state television, said that Iran was using “the same spirit and belief in itself” shown in that war to “stand and defend its rights” today against pressure from world powers.
Top Iranian generals said the show of military might should be digested by Israel, which in recent weeks has ramped up threats that it could hit Iranian nuclear facilities.
“We do not feel threatened by the nonsense uttered by that regime’s leaders,” the chief of Iran’s armed forces, General Hassan Firouzabadi, told the Fars news agency, adding that Iran’s response to any attack would be “immediate and unstoppable.”
General Ataollah Selehi, the commander of Iran’s army, told the ISNA news agency that “us holding a military parade is for deterrence and not a threat.”
He and other military leaders renewed their pledge that Israel would be annihilated if attacked.
The head of the Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace division in charge of missile defence, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hahjizadeh, repeated Iran’s promise to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz if the Islamic republic were attacked or Western sanctions halted its crude exports.
“If one day the Strait of Hormuz has no benefit for us, then we will deprive others from benefiting from it,” he said.
However he added that “under current conditions, there is no problem.”
Hahjizadeh also dismissed navy war games currently being held by the United States and 30 other nations in the Gulf as “no threat to us.”
Iran is locked in a showdown with the UN Security Council over its controversial nuclear programme.
Iran and the UN Security Council are locked in a showdown over Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme.
The West, led by the United States, has tightened the vice on Iran by implementing crippling economic sanctions, while Israel — the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear weapons state — has underlined its threats of possible air strikes on Iranian atomic facilities, with or without US help.
In his speech, Ahmadinejad also touched on an anti-Islam film made in America by an extremist Christian group that has fuelled violent protests in parts of the Muslim world.
He said US government claims it could do nothing to censor the film was a “deception” exploiting the pretext of freedom of expression.
He called the film an Israeli-hatched plot “to divide (Muslims) and spark sectarian conflict.”
Ahmadinejad implicitly referred to his often expressed opinion that the Holocaust never happened to lambast the West for perceived selective censorship.
“They stand against a question about a historical incident… they threaten and put pressure on nations for posing the question while at the same time in regards to the obscenest insults to the human sanctities and prophets… they shout adherence to freedom (of expression),” he said.
Ahmadinejad’s stance challenging the facts surrounding the killing of six million Jews by the Nazi regime during World War II is shared by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is the country’s commander-in-chief.
Early this week, Khamenei told naval cadets: “In some Western countries, no one dares to question the unknown incident of the Holocaust or for that matter some of the morally obscene policies like homosexuality… but insulting Islam and its sanctities under the pretext of freedom of expression is allowed.”