Iran parades new missile, tank on war anniversary
TEHRAN, Iran (Reuters) - Iran's Revolutionary Guards showed off their
own surface-to-surface missile for the first time Wednesday as President
Mohammad Khatami pledged that Iranian forces would help maintain regional
In a military parade marking the start of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war,
the elite Guards and regular army units rolled out a wide range of Iranian-made
military hardware, prompting Khatami to tout the export potential of the
local arms industry.
Khatami took the salute as thousands of ground, navy and air force troops
and Revolutionary Guards snapped into a goose-step when they passed the
reviewing stand in Tehran's Azadi (Freedom) Square.
The army paraded its Shehab missiles, armored personnel carriers and
an upgraded version of the locally made Zolfaqar tank, lighter and more
maneuverable than its predecessor and fitted with a laser-guided aiming
"Our armed forces are not warmongering, but they would counter
warmongers. They are the protectors of regional peace and security,"
He denounced the presence in the Gulf of "foreign" forces,
a reference to Western naval and air forces based in the strategic waterway
and in Gulf Arab states.
"The armed forces are moving toward self-sufficiency. They are
able to export their hardware to friendly nations," he said.
Flowers covered Khatami's reviewing stand and large portraits commemorated
Iranian commanders killed in the devastating war against Iraq.
War veterans in wheelchairs and nomadic tribesmen in colorful attire
also joined the parade.
A phalanx of women toting assault rifles with flowers in the barrels
marched past wearing black chadors, the all-enveloping dress worn by traditional
Muslim women in the Islamic republic.
"We have developed the Zelzal missile in the past four and a half
years without any outside help and by the grace of God it is now in mass
production," Brig. Gen. Gholamhossein Gheibparvar, the official in
charge of the parade, told Reuters.
Gheibparvar declined to reveal the range or payload of the missile,
apparently a new version of Iran's Zelzal-3 missile.
Iran will launch an eight-day submarine exercise Saturday at the mouth
of the Gulf, during which the land-based Fajr-e Darya missile will be test-fired
over the sea, the official news agency IRNA reported.
It was not immediately clear if the missile was a new version of Iran's
The London-based Jane's Defense Weekly said last year that Iran had
become the third country in the Middle East, after Israel and Egypt, to
manufacture main battle tanks.