Revolution at 40: Leaders Celebrate

President Hassan Rouhani

Iranian leaders have given defiant speeches, condemning U.S. sanctions and touting the country’s resilience, in the run-up to the 40th anniversary of the Islamic revolution. “The biggest economic pressure in the past 40 years on the Iranian nation has been plotted [by the United States]. If we all stand together, we will be victorious in this stage as well,” said President Hassan Rouhani at a ceremony for renewing allegiance to revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s ideals. Rouhani and other leaders condemned the United States for withdrawing from the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). 

In his address to the nation on February 11, Rouhani touted Iran’s military strength and ability to defend against foreign influence and invasion. “We have not –and will not- ask for permission from anybody for improving our defensive power,” he said. “We will continue this path and I say this clearly to the people of Iran that Iran’s military power in the past 40 years, especially in the recent 5 years has amazed the entire world.” 

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the United States “the embodiment of evil.” He said the “down with the USA” chant is aimed U.S. leaders, including President Trump, National Security Advisor John Bolton, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. “We have no fight to pick with the American people,” he told Air Force officers on February 8. In a separate speech, Khamenei assured Iranians that they will overcome sanctions and other economic problems if they remain as vigilant as they were during the 1980-1988 war with Iraq. “Saddam [Hussein] was leveled to earth and he was sent to hell while the Islamic Republic continued to blossom. Our enemies too – the ones who are acting against us in the U.S., Europe, and the West – will go to hell as well, and the Islamic Republic will prevail, God willing,” he told residents of Qom in January. 

Iran also used the occasion to unveil a new cruise missile on February 2. The Hoveizeh surface-to-surface missile is a new addition to the Soumar family of cruise missiles that has a range of 810 miles, according to state television.


The commemorations began on February 1, the anniversary of Khomeini's return from exile, and the start of the “10 Days of Dawn” which will culminate in nationwide rallies on February 11. The following are remarks by Iranian leaders on the revolution's anniversary.


Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

“The U.S. regime is the embodiment of evil, violence, creating chaos, and warmongering. The U.S. regime has always lived off trespassing for fulfilling its interests. The U.S.  is the embodiment of evil, then they complain why we chant 'down with the USA'.”

“Do not trust the Europeans. In the matter of nuclear negotiations, I had already mentioned that the U.S. officials are not reliable. Today, the officials, who accepted to negotiate, admit that the Americans are not reliable. These days, there is a discussion concerning the Europeans and their proposals. My advice would be that they should not be trusted, just like the U.S. cannot be trusted.”

“About the U.S., at the time of the nuclear negotiations a few years ago, I frequently insisted— in private meetings with the officials and public gatherings—‘Do not trust the Americans, their promises, smiles and signatures; they are not trustworthy.’ Well, the result is that those officials who negotiated [with the U.S.] at that time are now saying that the U.S. is unreliable.”



“As long as the United States shows viciousness and savagery, the Iranian nation will never cease shouting these words of ‘Down with the USA.”

“Even now, regarding Europe, I am not calling for cutting ties with them. However, the point I am trying to make here is about trust. Protesters on the streets of Paris are attacked, to the point that some have lost their eyes. Then they brazenly demand that we observe human rights. Do they even know what human rights are? Neither today, nor in the past, and never throughout their history, have they recognized what human rights are.”

“They [the Europeans] cannot be trusted or respected. We have experienced this time and again: France in a way, the U.K. in a way, and the rest in their own ways. Of course, we have relations with all the countries in the world with a few exceptions. But we should know who with and what about we are signing agreements.”


“I assume a bright future awaits us. I am aware of the problems like inflation; the news gets to me; even more than to others. Yet, today the Iranian nation is standing up to a vicious and cunning enemy like a hero, like a prominent figure, and knows what it looks forward to. The ideals and goals are clear. The Iranian nation is backing the revolution with extreme power. There are also complaints, but this has not led the Iranian nation to let go of their dignity and pride. This is my view of the nation.”

—Feb. 8, 2019, in a speech delivered at a meeting with Air Force officers


Khamenei“Well, 40 years have passed. 40 years is not a long time. In the life of civilizations, the 40th-year anniversary is the beginning of the intellectual growth and movement. The 40th year does not represent old age, rather it is a period of blossoming and this blossoming will continue to prevail, God willing. We are witness to the grounds for this blossoming. Today, religious faith is thankfully good in our country. A firm determination is good among our people. Their presence and preparedness are at a good level. Religious and determined youth are not few in number. There are many. I know them. Of course, I do not know all of them, but there are thousands of young individuals in different corners of the country who are busy carrying out deep and intellectual tasks. They are young scientists with firm determination who are building and producing. They are busy innovating and creating throughout the country. They will build the future.”

“By Allah’s favor, we will move past issues resulting from sanctions and economic problems. Of course, they create certain problems. In the present time, there are certain problems, but they are typical of the beginning of the work. If the administration and the people resist, show vigilance and work hard and unwaveringly, we will surely come out of this phase victorious, as we emerged victorious out of the imposed war. Saddam [Hussein] was leveled to earth and he was sent to hell while the Islamic Republic continued to blossom. Our enemies too – the ones who are acting against us in the US, Europe, and the West – will go to hell as well, and the Islamic Republic will prevail, God willing.”

—Jan. 9, 2019, in a speech delivered on the anniversary of an uprising in Qom in 1978


President Hassan Rouhani

“The enemies will never achieve their vicious goals.”

“The Iranian nation was successful in establishing the Islamic Revolution in this land.”

“This year, we are holding February 11 celebrations when the United States, the Zionists and the reactionaries in the region have put our people under the pressure of sanctions.”

“People know it well that 205 years ago, a great part of Iran’s northern parts and Caucasus separated from Iran during the disloyal Qajar kings.”

“Even 47 years ago, seven years before the victory of the Islamic Revolution during the time of the disloyal Pahlavi regime, an important part of southern Iran that was called Iran’s 14th province in geography books, separated from the country.”

“But 38 years ago when the world powers incited Saddam to attack Iran with the help of the weapons made by the west and the east, the money of reactionaries in the region and soldiers of many other countries, brave Iranians resisted against the entire world with its brave children, Army, IRGC, Basij, Police and all people.”

“The west and the east provided Saddam with the most modern fighters, artillery, tanks and helicopters during the war, but the ultimate loser were all their mercenaries, and our warriors came back home holding the flag of victory.” 

“Today, the entire world must know that the Islamic Republic of Iran is far more powerful than the days of war and defence, and our armed forces are readier today for creating weapons.”

“Today, 85 per cent of our defensive equipment and needs are built by our own powerful, brave engineers inside the country, whereas in the past regime, 95 per cent of our weapons was foreign.”

“We have not –and will not- ask for permission from anybody for improving our defensive power. We will continue this path and I say this clearly to the people of Iran that Iran’s military power in the past 40 years, especially in the recent 5 years has amazed the entire world.”

“In the recent five years, the moment Iran wanted to help the people of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Yemen, the world saw that the enemies did not achieve any victory against the power of the peoples of the region and Iran’s support.”

“Even one millimetre of the land and water of this country was not given to the enemies and the Iranian nation won over all conspiracies.”

“Today, all authorities in the Islamic Republic of Iran, from the Supreme Leader to the President, members of the parliament, Assembly of Experts and all councils are chosen through people’s votes.”

“We all need to keep this in mind that if we foiled all these plots in the past 40 years, it was because of Islam and our republic system.”

“Relying on God is the power that we have but our enemies don’t. We know that whether we win the battle or get killed in it, we are the victor.”

“Our revolution was based on the principle that virtue must replace vice. Faith and spirituality were the basis of yesterday and today’s revolution and power.”

“If it weren’t for this box, if we didn’t have long lines waiting to cast their ballot, the enemies would be successful in their conspiracies against our country.”

“Today, we have a true democracy in Iran. Parties, newspapers and the media are free in this country and all authorities must approach elections with an open mind. The more our mind is open, the readier we will be to prepare the groundwork for the presence of all thoughts, parties and factions.”

“We hope that with its [the Comprehensive Bill on Elections] passing by the Majlis, we witness more powerful turnout elections in the future.”

—Feb. 11, 2019, in a speech at anniversary celebrations in Tehran


Rouhani“The United States was seeking to put pressure on and kill hope in the people of Iran, but our people are more united than ever.”

“The Islamic Revolution was actually popular and the symbol of independence in the bipolar world.”

“The people of Iran won victory against a regime armed to teeth through unity and devotion.” 

“The Islamic Revolution was a hope for the oppressed and an earthquake for the U.S. and Zionists.”

“America has always failed in plots such as disintegration, coup, war and sanctions against the Islamic Republic.”

“The United States’ calculations about the Iranian nation, both before and after the revolution, were wrong.”

“The Iranian nation showed the world that it is following the right path.” 

“The Iranian nation stood and succeeded against war, terrorism and sanctions by relying on internal power.”

“We have made great progress in science, health and new technologies.”

“The Iranian nation proved its commitment and supporting the people of the region”.

“Saddam [Hussein] invaded our country for eight years, but we were a sanctuary for the Iraqi and Kuwaiti people during the next wars in the region.”

“We came to the aid of the nations of the region without expecting anything from them.”

“In the coalition against Saddam, the United States was thinking financially about Kuwait and Saudi Arabia before anything.”

“We are the backbone of Islamic culture, a rich civilization, and the best friend of our region.”

“If it were not for the support from the Iranian nation, the situation in Baghdad and Damascus would be different”.

“We rushed to help any country that needed our help.”

“In these years, we have proved that we are very accurate in signing a deal, but we live up to what we have signed.”

“The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a symbol of Iran's commitment to international agreements.”

“We have lived up to our commitments more accurately and better than the other parties to it.”

“The United States made problems for itself, Iran, the region and the world by withdrawing from the JCPOA.”

“Those who created al-Qaeda and ISIS sought to create a false Islamic revolution, but they realized their great mistake.”

— Feb. 6, 2019, in a meeting with foreign ambassadors


Rouhani“Imam Khomeini is the greatest reviver of religion in our times and the architect of a revolution that achieved victory by relying merely on people. People believed in Imam Khomeini’s honesty. One of Imam Khomeini’s skills was that he proved that building a correct, fair system had a great value. Imam Khomeini believed that tyranny was the biggest wrong to be forbidden. Imam Khomeini interpreted the aspects of the religion that were less known to people. He aroused hope of a better future, an independent country and the ruling of people and Islamic rules. The hope Imam Khomeini brought to people mobilized the Iranian society, something that is unprecedented in the history.

“He proved that ‘enjoining the good and forbidding the bad’ could also include domestic tyranny and foreign colonialism. Imam Khomeini was not afraid of foreign powers, but concerned about domestic division. Our system will be in danger if people have doubts about the two principles of Islam and Republic. Nobody can harm us as long as we follow the Supreme Leader. The U.S. Administration will definitely fail in its latest move against the Iranian nation.

“Today, the entire world is condemning the U.S. conspiracies against the Iranian nation and support Iran in this regard. The U.S. has showed the same lack of commitment to Europe, China and international treaties and regulations. Most of our problems are because of the pressure from the side of the United States and its followers.

“The highest honour for us in the recent years is our negotiations with the world powers and clinching moral, legal and political victory over them. The biggest economic pressure in the past 40 years on the Iranian nation has been plotted. If we all stand together, we will be victorious in this stage as well.”

—Jan. 30, 2019, in a speech delivered at a ceremony in which Iranian leaders renewed their allegiance to Ayatollah Khomeini’s ideals

Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif


Guardian Council Secretary Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati

“Even many of America’s allies don’t listen to it anymore and they are not afraid of it. America cannot manage its own affairs now. Millions of people are hungry there, and America’s power is in decline.”

—Feb. 1, 2019, in a speech opening official commemoration of the revolution’s anniversary


Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani

“Iran's capability is a great capacity that should be taken into account. Regarding the nuclear issue, Iran did not rely on anyone, stood on its own feet and could make progress despite all problems created for Iran. We are using our own capacities and are not dependent on anyone as we have tasted the poison of dependence under the former regime.”

—Feb. 2, 2019, remarks at the unveiling ceremony of the Hoveizeh cruise missile during the Ten Days of Dawn anniversary celebrations


“This huge rally shows that nothing and no measure can prevent the millions-strong turnout of our people, as the roots of our Revolution is deep and strong and the whole nation is united in this cause. Undoubtedly this huge turnout and the strong support of the nation for the Revolution is disappointing the enemies who will look for new scenarios after this defeat.”

—Feb. 11, 2019, in a speech at anniversary celebrations in Tehran


Defense Minister Amir Hatami

“With a range of more than 1,300 kilometers… this cruise missile needs a very short time for its preparedness and can fly at low altitude.”

—Feb. 2, 2019, in remarks at the unveiling ceremony of the Hoveizeh cruise missile during the Ten Days of Dawn celebrations



Deputy IRGC Commander Brigadier General Hossein Salami

"The enemies have attempted to block all our paths to power, and our achievements today have been earned against enemies' wish and desire." 

"The world arrogant powers have used all their power to stop the Iranian nation; they have laid siege on us and sanctioned us whenever we moved towards science, production, etc. They assassinated our scientists to prevent our progress, but we have progressed despite their will." 

—Feb. 11, 2019, in a speech at anniversary celebrations in Shahr-e-Kord


First Vice President Eshaq Jahangiri

"The Americans are sad about the rise of a powerful and great Iran in the region and today, the security established in Iran due to the glorious Islamic Revolution is not seen in any place in the Middle-East, and the Americans are well aware of this fact."

—Feb. 11, 2019, in a speech at anniversary celebrations in Shiraz



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