The Iranian military is purely for defensive purposes and should not be seen as a threat in the Mideast, President Hassan Rohani said Saturday at an annual Army Day ceremony in Tehran.
Rohani's comments came as Iran and Saudi Arabia are at odds over the Saudi-led coalition against Shi'ite Houthi rebels in Yemen, which Riyadh accuses Iran of arming, and as Russia's Putin removed a ban this week on supplying Tehran with a S-300 air defense missile system.
"Our strategy has always been that of a deterrent... not a doctrine of war," Rohani said in a speech, as the new Iran-made Bavar-373 missile was shown off in the army day parade, according to AFP.
He added, that Iranian navy ships that are present "in the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Aden" are "intended to ensure the security of neighbouring countries and maritime traffic."
Rohani also said that, "The armed forces bring peace to the nation and other peoples of the region."
Putin on Monday signed a decree lifting a ban on the delivery of S-300 missile defense systems to Iran. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that in light of the progress in the nuclear talks between Iran and world powers, there was no longer a need for the embargo. The missiles will give the Islamic republic's military a strong deterrent against any air attack.
On Friday, U.S. President Obamaweighed in on Russia's announcement earlier this week that it would lifted the five-year ban on delivery of anti-aircraft missiles. The White House initially objected, but Obama said, "I'm frankly surprised that it held this long."
Russia signed the $800 million contract to sell Iran the S-300 missile system in 2007, but suspended their delivery three years later because of strong objections from the United States and Israel. "Their economy is under strain and this was a substantial sale," Obama said.
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