Iran proudly paraded its military hardware in Tehran on Friday under the gaze of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who used the event to again defiantly lash out at the West and Israel.
The display, involving thousands of military personnel, tanks and missiles borne on trucks, marked the anniversary of the start of the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.
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Among the weapons on display were the surface-to-surface missile Qadr-F, which has a range of 2,000 kilometers (about 1,243 miles) and can reach Israel, and the Sajjil two-stage ballistic missile, which was not displayed in previous parades. It also has a 2,000-km range. The Fateh-110, Shahab-2 and Qiam missiles were also displayed.
During the parade, Iran's Revolution Guards Corps' Aerospace Commander Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh warned that the day a conflict begins, "the number of missiles launched would be more than the Zionists could imagine.
"If a conflict breaks out, the Zionist regime would be able to manage the beginning of the war, but the response and end would be in our hands, in which case the Zionist entity would cease to exist," the Fars news agency quoted the commander as saying.
Ahmadinejad at military parade
Before the procession began the Iranian president lashed out at the West over an anti-Islam video produced in the United States and the publication of caricatures of the prophet Mohammed by a French satirical weekly.
Ahmadinejad said that "in return for (allowing) the ugliest insults to the divine messenger, they — the West — raise the slogan of respect for freedom of speech."
He asserted that this shows a double standard and "is clearly a deception." The Iranian leader spoke during a military parade Friday in Tehran.
The remarks come after a week of protests and riots by Muslims angered by the film that depicts Islam’s prophet as a womanizer, religious fraud and child molester. The violence has left at least 30 people dead.
He called the film an Israeli-hatched plot "to divide (Muslims) and spark sectarian conflict."
In the speech, which was broadcast on state television, Ahmadinejad 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.
Iran is locked in a showdown with the UN Security Council over its controversial nuclear program.
The West, led by the United States, has tightened the vice on Iran by implementing crippling economic sanctions, while US ally Israel - the Middle East's sole if undeclared nuclear weapons state - has threatened air strikes on Iranian atomic facilities.
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 Holocaust 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."
AFP, AP contributed to the report
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