Iran marked the 36th anniversary of its 1979 Islamic Revolution on Wednesday as the country continues negotiations with world powers over its contested nuclear program.
State television aired footage of commemorations in Tehran and elsewhere across the country. Some participants chanted “Down with the US” and “Death to Israel.”
Speaking at a rally in Tehran, President Hassan Rouhani addressed the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Western powers, saying that Tehran seeks “constructive interaction” with the world, while preserving its interests.
“We seek a win-win agreement, according to which Iran would [guarantee] the transparency of its peaceful nuclear activities within the framework of international law and the opposite side should put an end to inhumane and illegal sanctions. This will benefit both sides,” said Rouhani, according to the Iranian Press TV.
The president also lashed out at the “Zionists” who he said “have made all efforts to scuttle negotiations.”
This year’s anniversary is the second to coincide with intense diplomatic efforts aimed at ending a 12-year standoff over Tehran’s nuclear program.
Rouhani implicitly linked ongoing nuclear talks with world powers to resolving bloody conflicts in Iraq and Syria.
“If there is going to be peace and stability in the region, and terrorism is to be uprooted, there is no other way than with the presence of the Islamic republic of Iran,” he said.
Referring to the ongoing fight against extremists in Iraq and Syria, as well as political problems and instability in Yemen and Lebanon, Rouhani said Iran was playing a leading role in the Middle East.
“You’ve seen in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen that the power that could help those nations to counter terrorist groups was the Islamic republic of Iran,” he said.
Meanwhile, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei pardoned 1,020 convicts in honor of the anniversary, the semi-official Fars News Agency reported.
On February 11, 1979, followers of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini ousted US-backed Shah Reza Pahlavi. America helped orchestrate the 1953 coup that overthrew Iran’s popularly elected prime minister, Mohammad Mossadegh, which brought Pahlavi to power and set the stage for decades of mistrust between the countries.
In recent years, Iran has used the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution to demonstrate against the West over its sanctions for the country’s disputed nuclear program.
Diplomats are negotiating a final deal over the program now.