Nightly News   |  February 10, 2010

Iran government braces for rally showdown

Iran will mark the anniversary of its revolution Thursday amid reports that its hard-line rulers have been cracking down on dissidents in an attempt to stave off anti-government demonstrations. NBC's Richard Engel reports.

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>>> day's other news. starting with what might come in iran . as that country braces for a big anniversary tomorrow. it's hardline government is reportedly cracking down on the opposition and defiantly moving ahead with its nuclear plans. our chief foreign correspondent richard engel has been watching all of it from our london bureau . richard, good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian. as the iranian government braces for a showdown with the opposition, today iran announced plans to produce higher enriched uranium within days. iran today issued a rallying cry and new warnings. show support for the government or risk being silenced. at least a million people are expected to converge around tehran's freedom square tomorrow for annual state sponsored celebrations on the anniversary of iran 's 1979 islamic revolution . but this year could be very different. opposition leaders who claim president mahmoud ahmadinejad stoeld elections last june called on their supporters to attend the celebrations, as well, but to wear green, the colter of the protest movement. u.s. intelligence and iranian analysts suspect clashes are likely.

>> the regime is intent and bent on 0 punishing those that oppose it and the people are intent and bent on making themselves heard.

>> reporter: during the last big opposition rallies in december, at least ten demonstrators were killed. nbc news' tehran bureau chief ali arouzi is working for western news agencies still in iran .

>> iran 's police chief warned there will be severe consequences if anyone uses tomorrow's rally to protest against the government. for the last several days security has been dramatically stepped up, with road blocks and check points scattered throughout the city. communications have ground to a halt, with text messaging and internet cut off.

>> reporter: further cutting communications, iran said today it will permanently block google's gmail service, but similar attempts to cut off iran have been unsuccessful, with pictures and cell phone videos flooding the internet. today, washington stepped up its pressure on iran . the treasury department tightened sanctions on iran 's revolutionary guard, targeting its engineering wing, which raises billions of dollars. brian?

>> richard engel in london tonight . we'll continue watching this. thanks.

>>> a lot of americans learned