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Video Emerges of Iranians Burning Flags While Celebrating 35th Anniversary of US Embassy Crisis

Rally comes two days before US and Iranian officials are set to hold talks over Iran's nuclear program.

by Payton Guion
Nov 5 2014, 5:30pm

Photo by Örlygur Hnefill/Flickr

Thousands of Iranians flooded the streets in Tehran on Tuesday in an annual anti-America rally celebrating the 35th anniversary of Iranian students storming the US embassy in 1979 and taking 52 American citizens hostage. The celebration came days before US and Iranian officials will meet for talks on Iran's nuclear program.

Smoke from flaming American and Israeli flags filled the air alongside chants of "Down with America" at Tuesday's rally, according to reports of the event. Iranians gather outside the former US embassy complex every year to commemorate the embassy crisis, which lasted 444 days and recently was depicted in the Oscar-winning film Argo.

Video of the rally from Jewish News One shows scores of Iranians gathered in Tehran, waving flags and holding banners carry anti-American sentiment. Speakers addressed the crowd, which eventually began chanting "Death to America," "Death to Israel," and "Death to Britain."

US relations with Iran were severed following the embassy attacks, when on November 4, 1979, Iranian activists overtook the American embassy in Tehran in response to US President Jimmy Carter's decision to give asylum to the former Shah of Iran, who was overthrown during the Islamic Revolution.

Relations between the two countries have not been formally restored, but have thawed since the moderate Hassan Rouhani became president in 2013, though the West continues to impose sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program.

Tuesday's rally was smaller than rallies past, a possible sign of the improved US-Iran relations. 2013's anniversary celebration brought out tens of thousands of people to partake in the anti-American festivities.

Their numbers may have been fewer this year, but the message was clear: despite slightly improved relations, the US and Iran are far from bedfellows. The anniversary rally was held two days before US and Iran officials are set to meet over Iran's nuclear program. The West believes that Iran is using its nuclear program to develop atomic weapons, which Iran continues to deny.

US Secretary of State John Kerry said on Wednesday that Iran has the right to nuclear power, but not enough to make a bomb. Kerry said it should be easy for Iran to prove its nuclear program is designed to be peaceful. He will meet with Iranian and EU diplomats to continue talks on the country's nuclear program.

Western economic sanctions over the program have sapped Iran's economy, possibly increasing the likelihood that Iran will meet the West somewhere around halfway in talks about its nuclear program.

"What Mr. Rohani has realized, and certainly sections of the establishment have realized, that this cannot continue — Iran's isolation cannot continue," Iranian journalist Nazenin Ansari told CBS News.

Follow Payton Guion on Twitter @PaytonGuion