DUBAI - Iran's supreme leader urged his country's politicians to show
more unity as he warned the West that sanctions imposed over Tehran's
disputed nuclear program would only make the government more determined
to pursue it, Iranian media reported.
The sanctions imposed
against Iran since the beginning of this year have taken an enormous
toll on its economy, which suffers from a weaker currency, rampant
inflation and high unemployment.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is
unelected and holds ultimate authority over Iran's foreign policy and
nuclear program, told Iranian officials not to bicker publicly.
rivals of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in parliament have increasingly
criticized his handling of the economy and for not preventing sharp
rises in food prices.
"The reality is that there are problems,
however you must not blame them on this or that party," Khamenei was
quoted as saying by Fars News Agency, in a meeting with officials late
on Tuesday. "Instead you must solve those problems with unity."
should avoid useless disputes and airing these disputes to help
preserve the nation's unity ... and officials should know these actions
will not bring them any honor or prestige among the people," he said.
Ahmadinejad and his rival, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, were present at the meeting.
AFP reported on Wednesday that Ahmadinejad told Khamenei that Iran currently has "11,000 centrifuges active in enrichment facilities," 10% more than it was last said to have had operating in a May 25 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, AFP reported on Wednesday.
Ahmadinejad gave no further details on where the centrifuges were operating, but his comments suggest that Iran has increased its nuclear activity despite the harsh sanctions levied against it.
United States and European Union have implemented tough sanctions
against Iran, including an embargo of its oil, in an effort to persuade
Tehran to give up its nuclear program which they suspect is aimed at
acquiring an atomic weapon.
Iran has repeatedly insisted its
program has only peaceful aims, including generating energy and
developing medical isotopes to treat cancer patients.
Khamenei said the sanctions hurt the West more than Iran, pointing especially to the euro zone crisis.
country will pass over the current economic pressures against the
Islamic system, for their continuation is not to the benefit of Western
nations," he said.
"They (Western powers) explicitly say they
should intensify pressure and sanctions to force the Iranian authorities
to reconsider their calculations.
"Not only will we not
reconsider our calculations, moreover with even more resolution we will
continue on the path of the people."
Three rounds of negotiations
this year between Iran and major world powers have ended without an
agreement, with Iran insisting it has the right to enrich uranium. World
powers want Iran to abide by UN resolutions which demand it completely
Khamenei said that in the past Iran had
attempted a rapprochement with the West but that it had only led to
world powers refusing to recognize Tehran's rights.
"In that era,
the Westerners became so presumptuous that even when our officials were
satisfied with three centrifuges, (the West) was opposed," he said.
"But today there are 11,000 active centrifuges in the country."
in the past have disputed Iran's reported number of active centrifuges -
machines used to enrich uranium - citing technical troubles at its
nuclear sites that have restrained growth.
The United States has
exempted major countries from its latest sanctions, in return for taking
steps to cut their imports of Iranian oil. Khamenei said the exemptions
were an indication that the sanctions could not continue for long.
"All of these realities show that we must ... continue in the path of resistance," he said.