Turnout for the annual Iranian street rallies that commemorate the embassy takeover, a pivotal event of the Islamic Revolution, appeared higher this year, than when Barack Obama pursued detente with Tehran.
The 2015 nuclear deal with six world powers was reached during Obama’s tenure. Under that deal, most international sanctions on Iran were lifted in exchange for Tehran curbing nuclear activity. Trump broke ranks with European allies, Russia and China last month, and refused to re-certify Iran’s compliance, even though Iran reaffirmed its commitment to the deal and UN inspectors have verified Tehran is complying with its terms.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei threatened to “shred” the pact if the United States pulls out. Additionally, a senior official accused President Donald Trump of a “crazy” return to confrontation with Tehran. State media reported that when Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, spoke to a rally in Tehran, he said, “All the governments confirm that the American president is a crazy individual who is taking others toward the direction of suicide. Trump’s policies against the people of Iran have brought them out into the streets today.”
The other parties to the nuclear deal — Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — have voiced concern over Trump’s opposition, fearing this could stir new Middle East instability. Still, the Europeans share US concern over Iran’s ballistic missile program and “destabilizing” regional behavior. Senior Iranian officials continue to claim that the Islamic Republic’s missile program is solely defensive in nature, and state that it is not negotiable.
According to Tasnim news agency, as a sign of defiance, a Ghadr ballistic missile with a range of 2,000 kilometers was put on display near the ex-US embassy in Tehran, which is now a cultural center, during Saturday’s street demonstration.
Tasnim added that Brig. General Hossein Salami, deputy head of the Revolutionary Guards, who oversee missile development, said, “That America thinks Iran is going to put aside its military power is a childish dream.”
Pictures of demonstrators nearby burning an effigy of Trump and holding up signs saying “Death to America” were posted by Fars news agency.
Soon after the 1979 revolution, when hard-line students seized the embassy and took 52 Americans hostage for 444 days, Iran and the United States severed diplomatic relations.
Tensions between the US and Iran have risen again, at a time when Tehran has been improving political and military ties with Russia. In fact, Russian President Vladimir Putin visited Tehran on Wednesday, where Khamenei told him that Tehran and Moscow must step up cooperation to isolate the United States and help defuse conflict in the Middle East. Iran and Russia both fight on the side of Syrian President Bashar al Assad.