PHOTO: Iran shows off its first S-300 missile system, decorated with a picture of the Supreme Leader, on Sunday
Amid its escalating intervention in Syria and tension with the US, Iran used National Army Day on Sunday to display its military forces.
The centerpiece of the parade was part of an S-300 anti-aircraft missile system, the first delivered by Russia to Iran under a contract signed in 2007.
Russian President Vladimir Putin renewed the deal, suspended in 2010 amid US and Israeli objections, in April 2015. However, despite months of promises by Iranian officials of imminent delivery, there was no sign of the systems.
Last week, the Iranian Foreign Ministry said the “first phase” of the deliveries had been completed. It gave no details of how many systems would be shipped to Tehran.
Rouhani Pushes Back His Critics
In his speech at the ceremony, President Rouhani linked praise of the armed forces to a defense of his foreign policy, under pressure by hardliners — including the Supreme Leader — who have claimed Government weakness in dealing with the US and its allies: “We are holding the Book, logic, prudence and rationality in one hand, and the sword in the other. These two are accompanying each other”.
Rouhani said, “If the Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, the Law Enforcement Forces, and Basij Forces did not repel the invaders in the Sacred Defense era [the 1980s Iran-Iraq War, today a different fate would await the people.”
He then promoted the July 2015 nuclear deal and its implementation, despite the Supreme Leader’s warning that the US is undermining the agreement and that Iran must pursue self-sufficiency:
Just like the armed forces defended the rights of the people in the eight-year Sacred Defense era, our diplomats well defended the rights of the Iranian people in negotiations with the world powers with courage.
The President implicitly referred to tension within the regime while denying that it would affect economic, foreign, and military policy:
We have a single leader, government, law, and nation, and we all are beside each other.
Even if our tastes are not alike, our goals are definitely the same and we are moving in a direction the end of which is preserving the rights of the Iranian nation and national achievements.