Iran Says Its Armed Forces Are Not a Regional Threat

LONDON, April 18 (Reuters) – President Hassan Rouhani said Iran‘s armed forces did not pose a threat to its neighbours as he addressed a display on Thursday of Iran‘s latest military equipment, including domestically produced fighter jets and Russian-made missile systems.

The parade to mark Army Day came as U.S. President Donald Trump pursues his drive to contain Iran‘s power in the Middle East by means of sanctions.

Thousands of soldiers marched past Rouhani and top military commanders at the parade in Tehran marking Army Day while new Iranian-built fighter jets flew overhead.

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Iran also showed off missiles, submarines, armoured vehicles, radars and its Russian-supplied S-300 defence system that can take down aircraft and missiles in the sky.

“I want to tell the regional countries that the armed forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran are not against you and your national interests. They stand against invaders… The roots of our problems are the Zionist regime and American imperialism,” Rouhani said.

He also said Iran sought “regional security and stability”.

The parade was held by the national defence force which controls the country’s biggest ground force. Iran‘s elite Revolutionary Guards is in charge of a growing arsenal of ballistic missiles.

The head of Iran‘s air force, Brigadier General Aziz Nasirzadeh was quoted as saying by the state news agency IRNA that “The enemy knows our military power and I doubt they dare to make a stupid and adventurous move against us; But if they do, we will respond in the strongest way possible.”

Iran strongly condemned Washington for officially designating the Revolutionary Guards as a foreign terrorist organisation on Monday.

At Thursday’s parade Rouhani called the U.S. move against the Guards “abhorrent” and said it was an insult to all Iran.

(Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)