Iran is staging several military parades nationwide to mark Sacred Defence Week and the anniversary of the start of the war with Iraq in 1980.
President Hassan Rouhani took part in a ceremony at the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini in Behesht-e Zahra, south of Tehran.
He railed against US President Donald Trump in his speech and vowed to boost Iran’s defensive missile capacity.
“Today it is no longer a proxy war. America has stood directly against the people of Iran, it has started breaching treaties and more than anything else this has despaired the people of America themselves,” he said.
“You say that we should not be present in the region. Then what have you come here for from thousands of kilomteres away? We've always been protectors of the Persian Gulf, the Sea of Oman, the Indian Ocean and the Bab al Mandab strait. Our vessels are patrolling those area and statistics prove that.”
Iran’s army and IRGC are staging joint drills in the Persian Gulf – some 600 naval vessels are doing maneuvers on Saturday in a show of strength near the Strait of Hormuz, the waterway Tehran has said they could block to impede transportation of a third of the world’s oil that is moved on the seas.
Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran in May, re-imposing sanctions against the regime, including ones targeting Iran’s oil industry that will come into force in November.
American officials have said they would be open to negotiating a new deal with Iran, one that would address Iran’s ballistic missile program and its regional activities in addition to the nuclear issue.
Iran says those issues are not open to discussion and accuses the US of destabilizing the Middle East.
“You gave bombs, missiles and the capacity to two countries so that they subject the poor people of Yemen to bombs and starvation. And obviously Iran is influential in the region, it's a big Middle East country and Iran will not stay silent to the suffering of countries in the region,” said Rouhani on Saturday.
Rouhani left the event when news of the attack in Ahvaz broke, Iranian media reported.
Updated at 3:06 pm