President Hassan Rouhani on Sunday denounced the presence of foreign forces in the Gulf and said Iran will present a peace plan, after its arch-foe Washington ordered reinforcements to the tense region.
“Foreign forces can cause problems and insecurity for our people and for our region,” Rouhani said before a military parade commemorating the Iran-Iraq war.
Rouhani also said Iran would present a peace plan to the United Nations within days.
“In this sensitive and important historical moment, we announce to our neighbours that we extend the hand of friendship and brotherhood to them,” he said.
Rouhani and top military brass saluted as row after row of soldiers marched past them in tight formation, followed by an array of homegrown military hardware.
The parade showcased tanks, armoured vehicles, drones and missiles — including the Khorramshahr, said to have a range of 2,000 kilometres (more than 1,200 miles).
Tensions between Iran and the US and its allies have threatened to boil over since May last year when President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from a 2015 nuclear deal and later began reimposing sanctions.
The tensions escalated in the wake of devastating September 14 attacks on Saudi oil installations that Washington and Riyadh have, to varying degrees, blamed on Tehran.
Following the attacks, which triggered a spike in global oil prices, Trump initially raised the possibility of a military response, saying the US was “locked and loaded”.
Washington later expanded its long list of sanctions against Tehran, targeting its central bank, but Trump indicated he did not plan military action.
On Friday, Defence Secretary Mark Esper said the US was sending reinforcements to Saudi Arabia at “the kingdom’s request”, but noted they would be “defensive in nature”.
– ‘Stay away’ –
Rouhani called on the foreign powers to “stay away” from the Gulf.
“If they’re sincere, then they should not make our region the site of an arms race,” he said.
“Your presence has always brought pain and misery… The farther you keep yourselves from our region and our nations, the more security there will be,” he added.
“Our logic is the logic of a Persian Gulf whose security comes from within.”
The annual military parade marks the start of the week commemorating Iran’s 1980-1988 war with Iraq.
Among the new weaponry debuting at Sunday’s parade was an upgraded warhead for the Khorramshahr ballistic missile, the Kaman 12 drone with a range of 1,000 kilometres and a mobile radar system capable of detecting landmines, local media reported.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif tweeted that Rouhani would announce details of the “Hormuz Peace Endeavour” at the UN General Assembly.
Rouhani is to travel to New York on Monday, a day before general debate kicks off at the UN gathering.
Tensions have flared in the Gulf since May, when Iran began reducing its commitments to the nuclear deal and the US said it was sending forces to waters near the Islamic republic in response to “indications of a credible threat”.
The US deployed an aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the sensitive waterways, before sending B-52 bombers, an amphibious assault ship and a Patriot missile battery.
Following the deployments, commercial ships were mysteriously attacked, drones downed and oil tankers seized in Gulf waters.
– ‘Act of war’ –
Trump in June authorised a military strike after Iran shot down a US drone, only to call off the retaliation at the last moment.
The crisis deepened with the September 14 attacks on Saudi energy giant Aramco’s Abqaiq processing plant and Khurais oilfield which halved the kingdom’s crude output.
Yemen’s Iran-backed Huthi rebels claimed responsibility, but the US says attacks involved cruise missiles from Iran and amounted to “an act of war”.
Saudi Arabia, which has been bogged down in a five-year war in Yemen, has warned of “appropriate measures” once the source of the strikes is confirmed by a UN investigation.
The UN has welcomed a Huthi plan for a cessation of hostilities announced Friday, but Saudi Arabia was sceptical.
After months of rising tensions, Iran’s semi-official news agency ISNA said Sunday a Swedish-owned oil tanker detained two months ago by Iranian forces would be released “soon”.
But “the case regarding its legal violations is still open with Iran’s judicial authorities,” it quoted the head of the local maritime organisation as saying.
BUSTED: National Archives caught doctoring exhibit to remove criticism of President Trump from women
The National Archives were caught editing an artifact from the Trump administration to remove criticism of the president, according to a bombshell new report in The Washington Post.
The newspaper reported on a "large color photograph" at the National Archives exhibit marking the centennial of women's suffrage.
"The 49-by-69-inch photograph is a powerful display. Viewed from one perspective, it shows the 2017 march. Viewed from another angle, it shifts to show a 1913 black-and-white image of a women’s suffrage march also on Pennsylvania Avenue. The display links momentous demonstrations for women’s rights more than a century apart on the same stretch of pavement. But a closer look reveals a different story," the newspaper noted.
Dershowitz is running a ‘bizarro defense’ of Trump: Harvard Law colleague says ‘Alan is just completely wacko’
Two of the most famous names associated with Harvard Law School had competing appearances on MSNBC on Friday.
It began when Alan Dershowitz, a professor emeritus, was interviewed MSNBC chief legal correspondent Ari Melber about his new role officially representing President Donald Trump during the Senate impeachment trial.
Dershowitz claimed that neither abuse of power nor obstruction of Congress count as "high crimes" under the constitution.
Professor Alan Dershowitz, who has also been associated with Harvard Law for five decades, was asked about Dershowitz's argument during an interview with Chris Hayes.
Why was Lev Parnas wearing a ‘Presidential Service Badge’ awarded to troops who serve in the White House?
Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist Maggie Haberman posted a fascinating update about a photo of impeachment figure Lev Parnas.
The photo shows Igor Fruman -- who, like Parnas, is under federal indictment -- sitting closely next to Rudy Giuliani and Parnas.
Haber said a source informed her that in the picture, Parnas can be seen wearing a "Presidential Service Badge," linking to the Wikipedia entry on the pin.
"The Presidential Service Badge (PSB) is an identification badge of the United States Armed Forces which is awarded to members of the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Coast Guard as well as other members of the Uniformed Services, such as the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Corps and the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps, who serve as full-time military staff to the President of the United States," Wikipedia explained.