Huge rallies as Iran proclaims 'nuclear state'

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Hundreds of thousands of government supporters today massed in central Tehran to mark the anniversary of the revolution that created Iran's Islamic republic - while president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad chose the day to proclaim his nation is now a "nuclear state".

A heavy security force fanned out across the city moved quickly to snuff out counter-protests by the opposition, clearing the way for the pro-government marches.



Police clashed with protesters in several sites around Tehran, firing tear gas to disperse them and paintballs to mark them for arrest, opposition websites reported.



Dozens of hard-liners with batons and pepper spray attacked the convoy of senior opposition leader Mahdi Karroubi, smashing his car windows and forcing him to turn back as he tried to join the protests, his son Hossein Karroubi said.



The celebrations were an opportunity for Iran's clerical regime to tout its power in the face of the opposition movement, which has persisted in holding mass street protests since disputed presidential elections in June in defiance of a fierce crackdown.



The security clampdown appeared to have succeeded in preventing a major opposition turnout. Their numbers were not immediately known, but opposition websites spoke of groups of protesters in the hundreds, compared to thousands in past demonstrations.



One protester, who did not want to be named, said she had tried to join the demonstrations but soon left in disappointment. "There were 300 of us, maximum 500. Against 10,000 people," she said.



"It means they won and we lost. They defeated us. They were able to gather so many people," she said. "But this doesn't mean we have been defeated for good. It's a defeat for now, today. We need time to regroup."



Foreign media in Iran were banned from covering the pro-reform protests. Tehran residents also reported internet speeds dropping dramatically and email services such as Gmail being blocked in a common government tactic to foil opposition attempts to organise.



Heavy numbers of riot police, members of the Revolutionary Guard and Basij militiamen deployed at key squares and major avenues in the capital to prevent protests from marring the annual mass rallies for the revolution's anniversary.



State television showed images of thousands upon thousands carrying often identical banners marching along the city's broad avenues toward the central Azadi, or Freedom, Square. There, the massive crowds waved Iranian flags and carried pictures of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic state, and his successor as supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.



In a nationally televised address in the square, Mr Ahmadinejad proclaimed that Iran has produced its first batch of uranium enriched to a higher level, saying his country will not be bullied by the West into curtailing its nuclear programme a day after the US imposed new sanctions.



"The first package of 20% fuel was produced and provided to the scientists," he said, reiterating that Iran was now a "nuclear state". He did not specify how much uranium had been enriched.



Iran announced on Tuesday that it was starting for the first time to further enrich uranium from around 3% purity to 20% purity, bringing sharp criticism from the US and its allies which accuse Tehran of seeking to develop a nuclear weapon.



Tehran, which denies seeking to build a bomb, has said it wants to further enrich the uranium - which is still substantially below the 90% plus level needed for a weapon - to fuel a research reactor for medical isotopes.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Sport
Steven Fletcher scores the second goal for Scotland
cricketBut they have to bounce back to beat Gibraltar in Euro 2016 qualifier
News
news
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Evans is the favourite to replace Jeremy Clarkson on Top Gear
TV
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing