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Iran Marks Revolution's 30th Anniversary

Ceremonies in Tehran on Jan. 31, 2009 mark the 30th anniversary of the return of the Ayatollah Khomeini's return from exile
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Thirty years ago this week, the Ayatollah Khomeini brought his Islamic revolution to Iran. It was a national religious uprising that transformed his nation.

On Saturday, Iranians celebrated.

The faithful gathered at Khomeini's tomb for speeches and the by-now routine cries of "Death to America, Death to Israel," reports CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Palmer.

And, although it's been big news in the West that the Obama administration wants to repair relations with Iran, the reaction in Tehran is so far muted, Palmer says.

"There's been neither official statement, nor any clear signal if or how the Iranians want to engage," she notes.

"Iran's leadership is cautious," Palmer explains. "It can't afford negotiation to look like capitulation, especially as, right from the outset, the U.S. has said Iran's nuclear program must be on the bargaining table."

That, says Palmer, is "something the Iranians say is nonnegotiable."

Khomeini arrived at Tehran's Mehrabad International Airport from France on February 1, 1979 after spending 15 years in exile.

A ceremony held at the airport on Saturday included the unveiling of a statue that depicts him walking down the aircraft's steps.

The country is holding 10 days of celebrations marking the 30th anniversary of the overthrow of the Shah, who ruled Iran for almost four decades, but fled two weeks before Khomeini's return.

This 10-day period is called Fajr, or Dawn.

February 10 is the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution's victory, or Iran's National Day, which is marked by rallies involving millions of people and speeches by senior Iranian officials.

Khomeini arrived in Tehran on February 1, but his return is being celebrated on January 31 this year because it is a leap year in the Iranian calendar.

Millions welcomed him 30 years ago, and a large photograph of his arrival was placed in the doorway of a mockup of the chartered Air France jet that brought him home.

Among those attending Saturday's celebration were Tehran city officials and some cabinet members.

Mehdi Chamran, the chairman of Tehran's City Council said Iran was "moving in a path that God willing, will lead to total liberation of human beings from temptations of passions as well as bondage of superpowers."

Each year, Khomeini's return from exile is marked by the ringing the bells at schools and on trains and boats at 9:33 a.m. local time, the exact moment when his plane landed.