Iranian soldiers marching during the Army Day parade in Tehran. April 18th, 2013.
Iranian soldiers marching during the Army Day parade in Tehran. April 18th, 2013. Photo by AFP
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Israeli threats to attack Iran’s nuclear sites are the harmless barking of a dog, Iran’s military said yesterday, marking the last Army Day ceremony of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s presidency with trademark acerbic rhetoric against the Jewish state.

Ahmadinejad, who steps down at elections in June after eight years at the helm of the Islamic Republic’s government, has used the podium at previous Army Day parades to lash out at the United States and its allies.

Yesterday Ahmadinejad confined himself to praise of the country’s armed forces, and it was Iran’s ground forces commander Ataollah Salehi who spoke up against Iran’s sworn foe.

“A dog does nothing more than bark and we have no confidence in these threats,” Iran’s state news agency quoted him as saying.

With little progress reported at talks this month between Iran and world powers, Israel has reiterated that it reserves the right to resort to military operations to stop what it says is Iran’s attempt to build nuclear weapons. Iran has responded to Israel’s threat with regular combat drills, announcements of new advances in military technology and threatening statements of its own.

Iran denies it is seeking nuclear arms and says its atomic work is peaceful and aimed at generating electricity.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who as commander in chief has ultimate authority over the armed forces, said last month the Islamic Republic would raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground if Israel “made the slightest mistake.”

New hardware unveiled at yesterday’s parade included a radar-evading attack drone called Sarir, and updates to its air defense systems. The Iranian air force also put on display an air-refueling maneuver by Russian-made Sukhoi 24 fighter jets, Fars news agency reported.

Iranian officials regularly emphasize the country’s ability to develop and construct its own military hardware and announce sophisticated new equipment, but Western analysts say their real capabilities cannot be independently verified.

Sanctions have prevented the Islamic Republic from buying U.S. and European weaponry, and so the basis of Iran’s military hardware remains U.S. and Soviet equipment purchases made by the Shah of Iran before the 1979 revolution.