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Rohani Says Iran's Military Strategy Purely Defensive

Iranian President Hassan Rohani (file photo)

President Hassan Rohani on April 18 said Iran's military is purely for defense and should not be seen as a threat in the Middle East.

"Our strategy has always been that of a deterrent...not a doctrine of war," he said in a speech at an annual Army Day ceremony in the capital where a new Iranian-made Bavar-373 missile was paraded.

Russian President Vladimir Putin earlier this week removed the ban on supplying Iran with the S-300 air defense missile system, paving the way to conclude a long-delayed contract.

The move raised alarm that such sales could embolden Tehran in talks with leading world powers about curbing its long-disputed nuclear program.

However, Iran says the domestically produced Bavar-373 system has similar capabilities to the S-300.

Rohani also sharply criticized Saudi Arabia, accusing Riyadh of "providing financial assistance and weapons to terrorists in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq," and attacked the Saudi-led coalition air strikes against Shi'ite Huthi rebels in Yemen.

Earlier, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the air strikes amount to "genocide" and "a major crime."

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP