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POLITICS-IRAN-MILITARY

By Staff
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TEHRAN, Apr 18 (Reuters) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said during an armed forces parade on Tuesday that any aggressor would regret attacking the Islamic Republic, which is embroiled in a nuclear dispute with the West.

The president declared Iran a nuclear power last week after he said it had successfully enriched uranium to the level used in power stations. Iran insists its programme is civilian despite accusations by the West that it wants atomic bombs.

The United States has said it wants a diplomatic solution to the standoff but has not ruled out military action.

''Today, Iran's army is one of the most powerful armies in the world and it will powerfully defend the country's political borders and the nation,'' Ahmadinejad said in a brief speech before troops and missiles took part in an annual parade.

''It will cut off the hands of any aggressors and will make any aggressor regret it,'' he said.

Ahmadinejad took the salute of thousands of army, navy and air force troops. Battle tanks were towed past on trucks, while helicopters and Russian-built warplanes flew in formation overhead.

Parachutists sailed down from the sky.

Torpedos and small submarines were also towed before the president, as were Nazeat 10 and Zelzal 1 missiles.

The US-based Nuclear Threat Initiative security Web site says the solid-fuelled rocket Nazeat 10 missile has a range of 150 km. It said the Zelzal 1 was also a solid-fuelled rocket with a range of 125 km (80 miles).

DEFENDING THE NATION

Iran did not show off its longest range missile, the Shahab-3, which it says can hit targets 2,000 km (1,250 miles) away, putting Israel or US bases in the Gulf in range.

Iran staged war games in the Gulf this month and tested what it said was a radar-evading missile, a high-speed sonar-evading torpedo and other equipment it said the country had developed.

Analysts say much of Iran's military equipment is outdated but that its forces could still disrupt oil shipping routes in the Gulf, which they said was the message behind the manoeuvres.

Today's parade was held opposite the tomb of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic. Nearby are tens of thousands of graves of those who died in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.

''We felt mercy for our enemies during the war with Iraq ...

but if we stand against America, none of our people will feel the same (about American troops),'' Abdolrahim Moussavi, head of the joint chiefs of staff, said ahead of the parade.

''Our nation will defend itself with all it has got,'' he told state television on yesterday night.

Members of the volunteer Basij militia, who see themselves as the guardians of revolutionary values, also marched by, wearing head bands with the words ''Mohammad, God's Prophet.''

Reuters

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