AFP: A high-ranking Iranian cleric on Friday said the country should grow into a military super power to defend all Muslims, following an army parade at a time of mounting tension with the West.
TEHRAN (AFP) — A high-ranking Iranian cleric on Friday said the country should grow into a military super power to defend all Muslims, following an army parade at a time of mounting tension with the West.
"In a not so distant future, we should reach a point to have the most powerful military equipment in the world so that no one even think about invading our borders." Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati said in his Friday prayer sermon carried live on state radio.
"And not only that of the Islamic republic, but also the borders of Islam … We must defend oppressed Muslims everywhere so that the enemies do not dare to attack Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq."
On Thursday's annual Army Day celebration in Tehran, dozens of fighter jets and other aircraft flew over the parade ground in a bid to show the power of the air force.
Also on display was Iran's Shahab-3 missile, whose range includes Israel and even the fringes of Europe.
The hardline cleric also vowed to cheering worshippers, who chanted "Death to America" and "Death to Israel," that their slogans will materialise.
"I tell you that the death of the United States has come. You shouted Death to the Shah and he died," Jannati said, referring to the monarch overthrown by the 1979 Islamic revolution and who died in exile.
"You say Death to Israel and it is dying. You say Death to America and it does not take so long that its death prayer will be said."
Iran has a longstanding policy of not recognising Israel, and its rhetoric against the country has sharpened during the presidency of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
The president has provoked international outrage by repeatedly predicting that Israel is doomed to disappear and talking about the collaps of great powers.
He courted more controversy by playing down the scale of the Holocaust.
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.