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Iran taunts US on revolution’s 40th birthday

DUBAI: Hundreds of thousands of Iranians marched and some burned U.S. flags to mark the revolution’s 40th anniversary on Monday as Tehran showed off ballistic missiles in defiance of U.S. efforts to curb its military power.

Soldiers, students, clerics and black-clad women holding small children thronged streets across Iran, many with portraits of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Shi’ite cleric who toppled the Shah in an Islamic uprising that still haunts the West.

On Feb. 11, 1979 Iran’s army declared its neutrality, paving the way for the fall of U.S.-backed Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

State television showed crowds defying cold rainy weather and carrying Iranian flags while shouting “Death to Israel, Death to America” – trademark chants of the revolution.

After decades of hostility with the United States, the Islamic Republic vowed to increase its military strength despite mounting pressure from Western countries.

Ballistic missile capabilities were on display during the main march, including the Qadr F, a ground-to-ground missile with a 1,950-km (1,220-mile) range, Tasnim news agency said.

“We have not asked and will not ask for permission to develop different types of … missiles and will continue our path and our military power,” President Hassan Rouhani said in a speech at Tehran’s Azadi (Freedom) square.

ECONOMIC “HARDSHIPS AND GRIEVANCES”

U.S. National Security Adviser Bolton, who in 2017 expressed hope Iran’s “revolution will not reach its 40th birthday”, tweeted on Monday that after four decades the “Islamic Republic of Iran has failed to fulfil its promises to uphold and safeguard the rights of its citizens”.

The large turnout in state-sponsored rallies, in which U.S. and Israeli flags were burned, came as Iranians face mounting economic hardships many blame on the country’s clerical leaders.

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