Iran struts military stuff

Parade of weaponry seeks to highlight might, self-sufficiency

September 23, 2007|By Ramin Mostaghim and Borzou Daragahi | Ramin Mostaghim and Borzou Daragahi,Los Angeles Times

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran showed off its armaments yesterday at annual army celebrations meant to highlight the oil-rich nation's military self-sufficiency and prowess in the face of international sanctions and U.S. hostility.

Iranian-made Saegheh fighter jets, which some military experts say are based on U.S. F-18s, screeched across the sky over Iranian-made armored personnel carriers and Ghadr missiles, which have a range of more than 1,000 miles.

"All these arms and equipment have been manufactured in Iran by Iranian experts," an announcer said on state-controlled TV.

Military commanders and political officials who assembled for the military parade near the tomb of revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini said they were undeterred by the possibility of U.S. or Israeli military attacks or increased economic pressure on Iran. The Islamic Republic is at odds with the West over its ambitions to acquire advanced nuclear technology and its alleged support for armed Islamic groups.

"Those who believe that through rotten means, such as psychological warfare and economic sanctions, they could hinder progress of the Iranian nation are wrong," said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is to arrive in New York today before his address to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday.

Iran and the U.S. are engaged in a struggle over influence in the Middle East. Tehran accuses Washington of destabilizing the region by backing Israel and occupying Iraq. The U.S. accuses the Islamic Republic of pursuing weapons of mass destruction and supporting anti-American militants in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories.

U.S. officials refuse to rule out the possibility of war to curtail Iran's ambitions and slow its nuclear program. The leaders of Iran's military issued forceful warnings yesterday about the consequences of any such attack, vowing to quickly escalate the conflict to the broader region.

Officials said Iranian forces are monitoring U.S. activities from the Persian Gulf to the northern Indian Ocean, where U.S. battleship groups often sail.

"We will target the interests of any country which intends to take action against Iran, no matter where their interests are located, and we believe in our victory," said Rear Adm. Habibollah Sayyari, commander of Iran's navy.

The newly appointed head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Iran's elite and ideologically driven parallel military force, said any Middle Eastern country that allowed the U.S. or Israel to use its air space for an attack on Iran would be considered an ally of the U.S. and Israel.

"You have seen the missiles - just pull the trigger and shoot," Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari said when asked how Iran would respond if another country was used as a base for an attack on Iran, according to Reuters.

Ramin Mostaghim and Borzou Daragahi write for the Los Angeles Times.

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