Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told commemorators that Iran was now a "nuclear state". Photo: Reuters
In Tehran's Azadi Square today, thousands of pro-government supporters gathered to celebrate the 31st anniversary of Iran's Islamic Revolution.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gave a speech to the rally, attacking the West and announcing that Iran had produced its first stock of 20% enriched uranium, declaring that Iran had effectively become a "nuclear state".
Government opposition protesters are trying to mount counter-demonstrations, but face a huge security crackdown, as two of its leaders have reportedly been attacked.
The government released a stern warning, saying that protesters will be dealt with.
State-tv showed Ahmadinejad speaking to a crowd, as tens of thousands had filled the streets. He claimed that Western countries were hampering genuine reform in Iran. Reports from the region say that the anniversary could be the largest confrontation since the disputed election last June, and that the government and opposition have chosen to make the day a huge trial of strength.
Twitter reports say that opposition Green Movement supporters are holding rallies, one of them in the city's Saddeqiya Street. Anti-government protesters are attempting to bring more people into central Tehran but are being confronted by a large number of the government's Basij militia.
Many opposition protesters, as well as leaders have been assaulted with tear gas, paint balls, and batons. Reports also suggest that government police have arrested many, including the reformist former President Mohammad Khatami, who was attacked, in addition his brother, Mohammed Reza Khatami, and his wife, Zahra Eshraghi, the granddaughter of the late Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, were arrested but later released.
Before the days commemorations began, police chief Esmail Ahmadi Moghaddam said the Revolutionary Guards and Basij Islamic militia were ready for any trouble.
"We are fully prepared for holding a safe and glorious rally," he told the semi-official Fars news agency, according to Reuters news agency.
"We are closely watching the activities of the sedition movement, and several people who were preparing to disrupt the 11 February rallies were arrested," he said.
Western leaders have yet to react to any of the days news, or to Ahmadinejad's claims that Iran is now a nuclear power in the world. This comes as quite a surprise, as the US has been engaged in six-party talks since October in attempts to stop any further nuclear progress by Iran.
The US's calls for stricter sanctions have been repeatedly blocked by China, and Western forces may want to act quickly, as Israel has vowed to use "any means necessary," to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.