Tension over nuclear talks sparks hostility, threats.
TEHRAN, Iran – Millions of Iranians participated in government-backed rallies marking the 35th anniversary of the Islamic revolution Tuesday.
At the largest rallies, in Tehran, the ongoing nuclear talks between Iran and world powers, including the United States, dominated the event, which is traditionally organized by hard-line factions.
Posters were distributed bearing slogans that referred to Secretary of State John Kerry’s recent remarks that, despite talks over the nuclear program, the military option remains on the table.
“We are eager for all options on the table,” many of the placards read, held up by Iranian families pushing baby strollers while shouting, “Death to America!” Other posters said, “We are ready for the great battle.”
Wendy Sherman, the undersecretary of state for political affairs, was singled out. Some of the participants shouted, “Death to Sherman!”
Testifying before the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee a week ago, Sherman said that the Iranian government had started handing out free food, after the United States released $500 million to Iran as part of a temporary agreement over the country’s nuclear program.
Iranian hard-liners reacted angrily, saying the money — which came from Iranian accounts frozen under sanctions — had been seized by the United States and that Iran had long ago paid for it.
Some protesters also called for the deaths of President Obama and Kerry.
On Feb. 11, 1979, Iranian revolutionaries declared victory over the regime of Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi and brought to power a government overseen by Shiite Muslim clerics.
President Hassan Rowhani, a cleric who was elected in June, criticized what he called U.S. threats against Iran but said that, if world powers negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program respected Tehran’s “rights,” they would receive “a positive and appropriate answer” from Iran.