Iran's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad insisted yesterday that his country wanted peace, but warned that any nation considering attacking the Islamic republic faced a "destructive and fiery" response.
He was speaking at an military parade marking the start of "Sacred Defense Week" -- the anniversary of the outbreak of a destructive eight-year war with Iraq in 1980 -- and amid mounting Western pressure on Iran's nuclear program.
To cries of "God is Great" Iran showed off its military might and warned potential aggressors that the Islamic state would vigorously repel any attack.
The military parade, hosted by the elite Revolutionary Guards, coincided with mounting Western pressure on Iran to abandon a nuclear program which it says is peaceful but Washington fears may be used to make atomic bombs. The US and EU have been pushing for Iran to be referred to the UN Security Council.
"Our nation wants peace, stability, justice and equality in international relations. We have always sought friendly relations with other countries. Our nation wants the well-being of other countries and will not do anything against their national interest," Ahmadinejad said.
"We want the Persian Gulf to be a gulf of friendship and equality," he said in a speech to officials and dignitaries at the parade, being staged in the south of the capital near the shrine of Iran's late Islamic revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and also carried live on state television.
"But those who decide to misuse our nation's honor and dignity and want to test what has been tested in the past, should know that the flames of the nation's wrath are very hot and destructive," he added.
Ahmadinejad said Iran's enemies had learned a lesson from the eight-year war during which Iran and Iraq fought each other to a standstill and hundreds of thousands were killed.
"Iran's enemies understood that the nation is very serious in defending the country's security, integrity, and the achievements of the [1979 Islamic] revolution," he said.
As in previous years the highlight of the parade, which included tanks, jets and troops, were six huge trailer-mounted Shahab-3 ballistic missiles, capable of hitting Israel, US bases in the Gulf and parts of southeastern Europe.
"If the Global Arrogance wants to attack Iran ... [it] will destroy their countries with these missiles," the parade announcer said.
"God is Great!" the announcer cried repeatedly as the missiles trundled past the presidential viewing platform.
Some of the missiles, which have a range of 2,000km bore banners proclaiming "Israel should be wiped off the map" and "We will trample the US under our feet."
US and Israeli officials have said they believe Iran intends to use its Shahab-3 to carry nuclear warheads. Iran says the missiles are equipped with conventional payloads and would be used only if Iran came under military attack.