TEHRAN: Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday vowed to defend Muslim countries against terrorism and Israel while insisting that its neighbours should not feel threatened.
Speaking during a National Army Day parade in which Iranian forces displayed sophisticated air defence systems recently acquired from Russia, Mr Rouhani praised Tehran’s role in helping the Syrian and Iraqi governments roll back the militant Islamic State group.
“If tomorrow your capitals face danger from terrorism or Zionism, the power that will give you a positive answer is the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said. But he added that Iran would only help if Muslim countries asked it to, and said its military power was purely for defensive and deterrent purposes. “The power of our armed forces is not against our southern, northern, eastern and western neighbours,” he said.
The Iranian president appeared to be referring to Gulf Arab states, which have long viewed Iran as seeking to dominate the region.
During the parade, the army displayed Russian-made S-300 air defence missiles delivered earlier this month.
In 2010, Russia froze a deal to supply the sophisticated systems to Iran, linking the decision to UN sanctions. President Vladimir Putin lifted the suspension last year following Iran’s deal with six world powers that curbed its nuclear programme in exchange for relief from international sanctions.
Iran also displayed tanks, light submarines, short-range missiles and other weapons.
Published in Dawn, April 18th, 2016