Rouhani talks peace, outreach at army parade

Rouhani talks peace, outreach at army parade

‘We are not after war,’ Iranian president says, but warns that the Islamic Republic will crush any aggressors

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at a press conference in Tehran, Iran, on April 9, 2014. (photo credit: AP/Ebrahim Noroozi)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at a press conference in Tehran, Iran, on April 9, 2014. (photo credit: AP/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Iran’s president underscored his moderate policies and outreach to the West in a speech Friday during a military parade on the country’s National Army Day.

Referring to the ongoing negotiations between Iran and the world powers over Tehran’s controversial nuclear program, President Hassan Rouhani said Iran has shown it has no hostile intentions toward anyone in the world, including the United States, which has long been considered an enemy.

“During the talks, we announced to the world and we say so again… we are not after war, we are after logic, we are after talks,” Rouhani said.

He touted Iran’s diplomatic outreach and said the backing of the military and the nation was crucial. “Support by the armed forces and support by our brave people have empowered the officials in charge of the talks on the diplomatic front.”

The Iranian president made no mention of archfoe Israel, but said Iran “will not invade any country,” although it would “resist any invasion.”

The tone in the Iranian state-run media, however, was more aggressive. The semi-official Fars news agency quoted Rouhani as saying that Iran possessed a strong deterrent power against the “greedy eyes of others.

“There is no doubt that Iran, with such brave sons, will never allow any aggression against its soil,” he said. Press TV reported Rouhani as saying Iran would “crush any aggression.”

Rouhani also assured neighboring countries that Iran seeks better ties with them, saying that “neighbors should know that our army supports peace and stability.”

The remarks were a stark contrast to Rouhani’s belligerent predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Since he was elected last June, Rouhani has pledged to resolve the nuclear dispute with the West and end painful economic sanctions imposed over Tehran’s controversial nuclear program, which the West fears could result in the making of a nuclear weapon.

Tehran denies the charge, saying its nuclear activities — mainly those surrounding its uranium enrichment, which is a possible pathway to nuclear arms — are meant for peaceful purposes only, such as power generation and cancer treatment. Iran also asserts it has a right to enrich uranium under international law.

Iran and six world powers — the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany — reached an interim deal in November 2013 that put limits on Tehran’s enrichment levels in exchange for an easing of some sanctions.

Talks are ongoing for a final deal that would remove all possibilities that the Islamic Republic could use its capabilities to build a nuclear weapon.

In Friday’s parade, Iran showcased its air defense systems, including the S-200 Russian-made, medium to high altitude surface-to-air missile system designed primarily to track, target, and destroy aircraft and cruise missiles.

Also on display were fighter jets such as the US-made F-4 and F-14, the Russian-made MIG-29 and Sukhoi-24, as well as Iran’s indigenous fighter plane, the Saegheh. The parade also showed off a newer version of the short-range, surface-to-surface Fajr-5, Nazeat and Zelzal missiles.

Iran has tried to achieve military self-sufficiency since 1992 and has also produced light submarines and torpedoes. Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari announced Friday that Iran would unveil a new submarine “with high capabilities” — dubbed Fateh — later this year, as well as several new destroyers, Fars reported.

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