Iran has unveiled plans to build an airbase to defend its nuclear sites, as Israel hints it is edging closer to launching strikes to end or curtail Tehran's weapons programme.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday presided over the annual ceremony marking the Iranian defence industry's "national day", which is often used to highlight advances in military technology and to persuade the world that the sanctions deployed against the country have failed to stop military progress. State media also boasted of an upgrade to a short-range missile system, the Fatah-110.
The two developments carry the clear threat that any attack on Iran's nuclear facilities by Israel or America would be met with retaliation in the Straits of Hormuz and against American allies on the other side of the Gulf - the only likely targets within the Fatah's range of about 200 miles.
The defence show followed renewed threats from Israel last week that it was on the verge of taking a unilateral decision to attack Iran's nuclear sites before they are successfully buried beyond the reach of "bunker-busting" bombs. President Ahmadinejad, despite recent comments that the "Zionist regime" was a cancerous tumour which would soon be "wiped out", insisted that the new weapons being unveiled were defensive.
"Defensive advances are meant to defend human integrity, and are not meant to be offensive moves toward others," he said. "I have no doubt that our defensive capabilities can stand up to bullying and put a halt to their plans."
The new airbase will be 130 miles from Iran's current main uranium enrichment facility at Natanz in the centre of the country.