Iran Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khameini_311.
(photo credit: Reuters)
In the face of aggression from the United States or Israel, Iran will attack to defend itself, Iran's most powerful figure, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday.
"We do not have nuclear weapons and we will not build them but in the face of aggression from the enemies, whether from America or the Zionist regime, to defend ourselves we will attack on the same level as the enemies attack us," said Khamenei in a Persian New Year speech broadcast live on television.
"Americans are making a grave mistake if they think by making threats they will destroy the Iranian nation," he said in the address to thousands at the Imam Reza Shrine in Mashhad.
The US has led the international community in sanctioning various sectors of Iran's economy, most notably its central bank and its petrochemicals industries, over Tehran's refusal to abandon its nuclear program. The fear is that while Iran has said it is developing civilian nuclear technology, many Western nations believe Tehran wants a nuclear bomb.
While Iran indicated to the P5+1 group that it wants a fresh round of talks over its nuclear program, Tehran has also said it would not cave to Western pressure and abandon the civilian elements of its nuclear development.
Iran's unwillingness to shut down its reactors, and go public with the covert elements of its nuclear program have led Western nations to heighten sanctions on Iran. Most recently, international transactions firm SWIFT denied Iran access to its system, delivering a considerable blow to the Islamic Republic's import-export industries.
Khamenei on Tuesday addressed these sanctions' impact on Iran - the traditional Iranian New Year called Norwuz in Persian - saying that Iran would increase economic production sufficiently to resist the pressure from its "enemies," the Mehr news agency reported.
Khamenei said that Iran had successfully confronted all economic challenges presented to it by international sanctions over the last year and would continue to do so.
Much of the international community suspects that Iran is clandestinely pursuing nuclear weapons. In an effort to convince it to abandon that goal, the West has imposed increasingly harsh sanctions against Tehran.
Earlier this week, Iran faced its latest round of sanctions as SWIFT, the world's largest electronic payment system
, decided to to halt Iran's ability to make international transfers. The decision cut off 30 Iranian banks blacklisted by EU supported economic sanctions.
Responding to the sanctions, he said that the Islamic Republic's willpower and determination would help it “completely overcome the challenges that the enemy has created.” The Iranian leader added that increased domestic production would solve the issues of inflation and unemployment which would “disappoint the enemy."
"When the enemy becomes disappointed, his efforts and machinations will come to an end,” he declared.
He proclaimed that this year's national theme would be “National Production and Supporting Iranian Labor and Capital.” Khamenei noted that the government would strengthen its support of domestic industrial and agricultural products and encourage Iran's citizens to focus on consuming domestic products. “We should become used to consuming every product that is produced inside the country,” said Khamieni.
Relating to foreign products, Khamenei stated that it is “our obligation to seriously avoid consuming foreign products the equivalents of which are also produced inside the country.”
Moving on to events in the region, Khamenei implied Iranian involvement in the removal of certain dictators from power and in the adoption of new constitutions in the region based on Islam. He also noted as an accomplishment that “the Zionist regime was besieged.”
Israel has viewed Iran as responsible for ordering terror groups in Gaza to initiate the latest round of rocket attacks
on the South. Khamenei did not directly discuss news reports that Iran has provided significant military and economic support to the Syrian military in its efforts to put down the ongoing uprising.