TEHRAN (AFP) — President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday proclaimed Iran as the "most powerful nation" on earth as the country's air force showed off its prowess at a time of mounting tension with the West.
"Iran is the most powerful and independent nation in the world," Ahmadinejad told a military parade outside Tehran marking the Islamic republic's annual Army Day, reaffirming one of his favoured slogans.
Ahmadinejad said all the branches of the armed forces would react forcefully in response to any attack against Iran's soil and boasted that no one would dare to launch a strike on the country.
"The army, the Revolutionary Guards and the Basij (militia) will resist with force and coordination and respond strongly to the slightest aggression," he said.
"I am proud to announce today that the Iranian nation's power is of an extent that no major power can dare jeopardise the security and interests of the Iranian nation."
To mark the occasion, dozens of fighter jets and other aircraft flew over the parade ground in a bid to show the power of the air force, which has struggled for years under the effects of US sanctions.
Among them were US-made F4 and F-5 fighter jets whose construction goes back to the 1960s and 1970s when shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi went on a massive military spending spree.
Also shown were several Saegheh fighter jets which Iran says is a entirely home-produced model but Western experts classify as a derivative of the F-5.
Washington imposed the blanket embargo after the pro-American shah was toppled in the 1979 Islamic revolution, and the country must work intensely to find spare parts to keep its fleet in the air.
Iran is at odds with the West over its disputed nuclear programme, which the United States and its allies fear could be used to make nuclear weapons. Iran insists it only wants to produce nuclear energy.
The United State has never ruled out a military strike against the Islamic republic although Washington insists it prefers diplomacy. The same is true of US ally Israel, which Iran does not recognise.
Among the weapons on display at the military parade was Iran's longer range Shahab-3 missile, whose range includes Israel and even the fringes of Europe.
The model shown had a "baby bottle" nose for extra-dynamic efficiency and was labelled "Ghadr-1" although it was clearly a Shahab-3.
A lorry carrying other missiles also carried the slogan "Death to Israel" while while "Death to America" had been written on another vehicle.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said the international community would ensure Iran never becomes a nuclear power. Israel is believed to be the sole -- if undeclared -- possessor of atomic arms in the Middle East.
"To my knowledge, and on the basis of what I know and read, I believe the efforts of the international community will succeed, and that Iran will not become a nuclear power," Olmert told the Maariv daily.
Iran has in recent weeks been engaged in an intensifying war of words with Israel after an Israeli minister warned Iran would be destroyed if it launched an attack against the Jewish state.
"If Israel takes such action against the Islamic Republic of Iran, we will eliminate it from the global arena," deputy army commander Mohammad Reza Ashtiani riposted Tuesday.
Ahmadinejad repeated his belief that the power of Iran meant the prevailing world order was set to be turned on its head.
"Thanks to the resistance of the Iranian people, the great powers have become bogged down. The region and the world must prepare for great changes and the disappearance of satanic powers."
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »