Iran displays military might on anniversary of Iraqi invasion

A medium-range Sejil missile at the parade. Iran also held a large maritime display.
A medium-range Sejil missile at the parade. Iran also held a large maritime display.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BEIRUT • Iran marked the anniversary of its 1980 invasion by Iraq by showing off its latest ships and missiles and telling the United States not to meddle in the Gulf.

At a parade in Teheran yesterday that was shown on state TV, the military displayed long-range missiles, tanks and the Russian-supplied S-300 surface-to-air missile defence system.

A large maritime display involving 500 fast patrol boats, submarines, helicopters and warships took place in the Gulf, according to Iranian media. And for the first time, Russian-made Sukhoi Su-22 fighter jets flew over Bandar Abbas, a major port on the Gulf coast, at a time of high tension with the United States in the strategic waterway.

US officials say there have been more than 30 close encounters between US and Iranian vessels in the Gulf so far this year, over twice as many as in the same period last year.

On Sept 4, a US Navy coastal patrol ship changed course after an Iranian Revolutionary Guard fast-attack craft came within 90m of it in the central Gulf, at least the fourth such incident in less than a month, US Defence Department officials said.

"We tell the Americans that it's better that the capital and wealth of the American people should not be wasted on their inappropriate and detrimental presence in the Persian Gulf," said Major-General Mohammad Ali Jafari, commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

The Tasnim news site quoted him as saying: "If they want to extend their reach and engage in adventurism, they should go to the Bay of Pigs" - a reference to the location of a botched US attempt to overthrow Cuban leader Fidel Castro in 1961.

In Teheran, the Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Major-General Mohammad Hossein Baqeri, declared that Iran wanted peace. But he said Iran's lessons in the 1980-88 war against Iraq now served as a guide for "our brothers in faith" in Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Bahrain, countries where Iran has political, religious or military allies.

Among the weapons displayed was the new long-range Zolfaqar ballistic missile, named after a legendary sword said to have given by the Prophet Muhammad to Imam Ali.

It has "a cluster warhead capable of hitting targets spread over the ground", according to Tasnim.

The Russian-supplied missile defence system on show in Teheran was deployed last month around Iran's underground uranium enrichment facility at Fordow. Enrichment at the site, around 100km south of Teheran, has stopped since the implementation in January of Iran's agreement with world powers to curb its nuclear programme in return for an easing of sanctions.

Also on display was the Qadr H missile, which has a range of 2,000km, according to state TV.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 22, 2016, with the headline 'Iran displays military might on anniversary of Iraqi invasion'. Print Edition | Subscribe