Hundreds of thousands of people across Iran took to the streets on Monday to mark the 40th anniversary of the country’s Islamic Revolution. Speaking in the capital Tehran, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told a huge crowd that Iran did not need to ask the world’s permission to develop missiles, and that it would continue to build up its military power despite U.S. sanctions, CBS News reported.
Some of the people in the crowd were old enough to have actually participated in the revolution, but for the younger ones, the Islamic Republic that followed is the only country they’ve ever known. That means all they’ve ever known is a relationship with the U.S. that ranges from hostile to downright toxic, CBC News writes.
Chants of the familiar “Death to America” refrain echoed through the streets of Tehran on Monday in response. This year, Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei stressed just before the anniversary, however, that the chant was not aimed at the American people, but their leaders.
Iran “will not stop saying ‘Death to America’ as long as the U.S. acts malicious” toward Iran,” Khamenei said.
Rouhani spoke to the crowd in Tehran on Monday for 45 minutes, lambasting “U.S. and Israeli efforts to bring down” Iran through sanctions.
“The presence of people in this celebration means that plots by the enemies… have been defused,” he said. “They will not achieve their ill-omened aims.”
The deputy head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, Yadollah Javani, was quoted on Monday by state news agency IRNA as saying, “the United States does not have the courage to shoot a single bullet at us despite all its defensive and military assets. But if they attack us, we will raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground.”
Iran often directs its bellicose rhetoric at both Israel and the U.S. Many of Iran’s rockets are capable of reaching Israel. Under the previous president, the regime called for the Jewish state to be “wiped off the map.”
An anchor on Iranian state TV quipped on Monday about how he expected President Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton to be angry as he watched the images from Terhan this week, given that he suggested just last year that the Iranian regime was doomed to crumble in months, CBS News noted.