Image: Anti-U.S. rally
Hasan Sarbakhshian  /  AP
Iranians shouts anti-U.S. slogans with Haji Bakhshi, center holding a gun on Saturday in front of the former U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran.
updated 11/4/2006 4:33:16 PM ET 2006-11-04T21:33:16

Thousands of Iranians on Saturday chanted “Death to America” outside the former U.S. embassy which students stormed on this day in 1979, renewing Iran’s defiance at a time when it faces possible sanctions for its nuclear work.

Iran sees itself as being victimized by an aggressive United States bent on controlling the Middle East and exacting revenge against Tehran’s Islamic leaders for overthrowing the U.S.-backed shah 27-years-ago.

Washington wants the United Nations Security Council to toughen a draft resolution drawn up by Britain, France and Germany for sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. But Russia and China want the draft watered down. Iran says its atomic program is entirely peaceful.

“We are here to punch America in the mouth,” said student Mohsen Abdullahi. “We want to tell the Americans and British they are nothing in the face of Iran’s power.”

Many high school students had been let out of classes to attend the annual demonstration outside the former embassy which state media refers to as the “nest of spies.” It is now a base for Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards.

Protesters carried banners proclaiming the rallying cries of “death to America” and “death to Israel,” and “America is the Great Satan.”

Army exercises commence
Student Amir Hossein Ebrahimi, 14, wore camouflage fatigues for the occasion.

“I wore this to tell the Americans that Iranians are always ready to join the army and defend our country,” he said.

Pressing home that message, Iran started 10 days of military exercises on Thursday off its southern coast where improved missiles have been successfully tested. Tehran says the weaponry brings all the Gulf’s vital oil shipping lanes within range.

“The weapons’ tests and this demonstration will scare the Americans so they never think of invading our country,” said student Mostafa Bahamin.

Hardline Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has spearheaded Tehran’s defiance of U.S. efforts to impose sanctions over Iran’s refusal to scale back its nuclear program.

Since he came to power a year ago, Ahmadinejad has also reversed the former administration’s drive to reform the Islamic Republic and bring in more open government.

Many of the radical student leaders who took over the U.S. embassy in 1979 and held dozens of diplomats hostage for 444 days are now among the most liberal of reformists.

Ahmadinejad, a leader of one student faction 27 years ago, had opposed the U.S. embassy seizure. He proposed taking over the Soviet embassy instead, leading hostage-takers say.

Copyright 2012 Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions.

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