Iran displays military hardware

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday that Israel was on its way to collapse, as Iran’s military displayed a range of home-built drones and missiles at the annual Army Day parade.

In a speech marking the event, the president also reiterated his view that the presence of foreign forces is causing conflict in the region.

“The Zionist regime is on its way to collapse,” Ahmadinejad, known for his strong anti-Israel rhetoric, said in an address delivered near the shrine of Imam Khomeini, Iran’s revolutionary leader, located south of Tehran.

“This is the will of the regional nations that after 60 odd years, the root of this corrupt microbe and the main reason for insecurity in the region be pulled out.”

Ahmadinejad, who previously has angered Israel and Western countries for asserting that the Holocaust is a “myth”, said that the “murderess” Jewish state was behind the turmoil in the region.

“This regime is the main instigator of sedition and conflict in the region,” the hardliner, flanked by Iran’s top military brass, said from the podium.

“I want its supporters and creators to stop backing it and allow the regional nations and the Palestinians to settle things with them,” he said without elaborating.

Ahmadinejad also demanded foreign forces quit the region.

“The presence of foreign forces is the cause of conflict in our region. They must leave,” he said, adding that Iran’s military might was enough of a “deterrent” for any “enemy” of the Islamic republic.

Iranian officials, including supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, have regularly blamed the presence of US forces in neighbouring Iraq and Afghanistan for instability in the region.

Soon after his speech, Ahmadinejad presided over a parade of Iranian military personnel, members of the elite Revolutionary Guards and the volunteer Islamist militia, Basij.

While parading, the soldiers were chanting, “On the order of Khamenei, I will give my life!” and “Nuclear energy is our right.”

A military personnel carrier meanwhile sported banners reading “Death to America! Death to Israel!”

The military also displayed on the back of trucks about a dozen home-built drones, which it claims can be used for surveillance and for combat, as well as a range of missiles — part of yet another Iranian programme which has caused concern in the West.

Among the missiles which were paraded on trucks and mobile launchers were the Ghadr 1 (Power), which boasts a range of 2,000 kilometres (1,242 miles), Shahab 3 (Meteor), with a range of 1,800 kilometres (1,120 miles), Sejil 2 (Lethal Stone), Fateh (Conqueror) and two cruise missiles Raad (Thunder) and Nasr 1 (Victory).

Iran says its missiles can strike any target in Israel, which has never ruled out a military attack against Tehran’s nuclear facilities to stop the Islamic republic’s controversial atomic programme.

Iranian military officials have said that if attacked, they can target US “interests” in the region.