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TEHRAN -- Anti-American and anti-Israel sentiment ran high on the streets of Tehran on Tuesday as hundreds of thousands celebrated the 35th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.
Chants of “Death to Israel” and “Down with the U.S.” reverberated and groups of young people approached NBC News’ crew to deliver their message of anger and distrust.
"I have a message for Mr. Obama: My option on the table is the destruction of Israel, be sure of that," 22-year-old student Jamshid said during the events marking the 1979 toppling of Shah Reza Pahlavi, a close U.S. ally.
"I have a message from the people of Iran to Mr. Obama and [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu -- we are ready for big war," another young man told NBC News.
The virulent anti-Western and anti-Israeli statements come as the government of President Hassan Rouhani steers the country towards a rapprochement with the West. In November, the regime agreed to cap its nuclear enrichment program in exchange for an easing of Western sanctions.
Also on Tuesday, Rouhani said that Iran would pursue peaceful atomic research "forever," and lashed out at Western statements that a military solution to a nuclear dispute with Tehran remained an option.
"I say explicitly to those delusional people who say the military option is on the table, that they should change their glasses ... Our nation regards the language of threat as rude and offensive," Rouhani told the crowds.
Despite the political message, the anniversary events also had a carnival feeling. Posters of Supreme Leader Ali Hosseini Khamenei stood next to stalls selling food, T-shirts and balloons in the shape of Spider-Man and Miley Cyrus.
On Saturday, Khamenei said the United States was trying to undermine the country's government.
"The Iranian nation should pay attention to the recent negotiations and the rude remarks of the Americans so that everyone gets to know the enemy well,” state news agency Fars quoted him as saying.
The statements are markedly different to more conciliatory language some officials have used during negotiations.
"What I can promise is that we will go to those negotiations with the political will and good faith to reach an agreement because it would be foolish for us to only bargain for six months," Mohammad Javad Zarif said. "That would be a disaster for everybody - to start a process and then to abruptly end it within six months," he said.
Reuters contributed to this report.