Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Friday that while it was the West that was the aggressor responsible for ratcheting up the possibility of war, Iran stands ready to face attack and would never back down in the face of any aggression.
Speaking at a military base in the northern city of Bojnourd, the Islamic Republic's Press TV quoted Khamenei as saying that "what motivates the hegemonic powers to wage war is the sale of arms and cultivation of military industries that depend on capitalists, and the only factor that suppresses such war-waging impulse of power-seekers is the general readiness of the [Iranian] nation and defensive preparedness of the armed forces."
On Wednesday, Khamenei accused the US and EU of lying over sanctions being connected to Tehran’s nuclear program.
Khamenei said the West had imposed sanctions on Iran ever since the Islamic Revolution in 1979, according to reports in Iran’s Mashregh News, which is affiliated with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC).
It was the “Iranian nation’s pride and intractability” that had angered the West, he added, calling the sanctions a “war against the Iranian nation.”
The supreme leader also accused the West of mendacity over promises to end sanctions if Iran pledges to guarantee that its nuclear program is peaceful and has no military component.
“They are saying that if the [Iranian] nation gives up on their rights to nuclear energy, then the sanctions will end. They are lying,” Khamenei said during a visit to the city of Bojnord in North Khorasan.
Khamenei said the main reason for the banking and oil sanctions was “brutality, spite and hatred of the Iranian nation.”
“Sanctions aren’t a matter of yesterday or today, they have existed right from the start,” he added, stating that Iran would not capitulate against “irrational sanctions.”
Iran’s national currency, the rial, plummeted to an all-time low against the US dollar last week, in response to oil and banking sanctions imposed over its nuclear program, prompting clashes in Tehran between protesters and police.
Khamenei dismissed the riots as insignificant compared with protests in the US and Europe.
“A few people in Tehran set fire to a couple of garbage cans for two or three hours, and now they’re saying Iran is in a mess. Our situation is better than yours. Why, for two years now, your streets have been full of protesters day and night,” he said, referring to Europe’s debt crisis.
Although Khamenei did admit that sanctions had caused “some issues” and that there had been “some mismanagement” of Iran’s economy, he said that Iran would solve its economic problems through its strategy of national production, a mantra he has often repeated.
Joanna Paraszczuk contributed to this report.