Thursday, 18 April, 2019

Rouhani: Iran to continue expanding military might, missile program

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini speaks from a balcony in Tehran during Iran's revolution in February 1979 Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini speaks from a balcony in Tehran during Iran's revolution in February 1979
Patty Aguilar | 12 February, 2019, 05:41

Iran was determined to expand its military power and ballistic missile programme despite pressure from hostile countries, state TV reported Rouhani as saying. "The long-suffering Iranian people deserve a much brighter future", he posted in both English and Farsi.

Iranian people gather during a ceremony to mark the 40th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Tehran, Iran February 11, 2019.

Pictures on social media showed some people also demonstrating against corruption, unemployment and high prices.

Reuters could not independently verify the pictures.

Last year, Iran cracked down on protests over poor living standards in over 80 cities and towns that posed the most serious challenge to its clerical leadership since a 2009 revolt over disputed elections.

The festivities to mark the Iranian Revolution start every year on February 1, the day that Khomeini returned from exile to become supreme leader of the Islamic republic.

Prices of basic foodstuffs, particularly meat, have soared since President Donald Trump withdrew Washington from the 2015 nuclear deal previous year and reimposed economic sanctions.

In his address on Tehran's Azadi Square, Rohani said the "enemy will never reach its evil objectives", vowing that Iran will defeat US sanctions.

Washington alleges Iran's launches defy a U.N. Security Council resolution calling on Iran to undertake no activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

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But despite the official festivities today's Islamic republic faces acute economic challenges as it struggles with a mix of domestic hardships and USA sanctions.

But he remained defiant on Monday as Iranians recalled the end of a monarch who catered to the rich.

The Iranian people "will not stop saying "Death to America" as long as the USA acts malicious" toward Iran, Khamenei said, referring to Trump's State of the Union address in which the American president, among other things, said: "We will not avert our eyes from a regime that chants death to America".

But if the United States does attack, he warned, "We will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground".

"If this regime makes the bad mistake and tries to destroy Tel Aviv or Haifa, it won't be successful and it will be the last anniversary of their revolution they will ever celebrate".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Iran that this year could be the last time it celebrates the anniversary if it attacks his country. "They should take this into account".

Washington and its Arab allies have viewed Iran with great suspicion since the Islamic Revolution, fearing Khomeini's radical ideology would inspire militants across the Middle East.

Dismissing calls that Iranian regional influence should be curbed, the deputy commander of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) was quoted as saying on February 11 that "the enemy can not ask us to leave the region".

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