ayatollah iran 298 88 ap.
(photo credit: AP)
Iran's supreme ruler came out in support of his maligned president on Saturday, who created an international storm by demanding Israel be moved to Europe and casting doubt on whether the Holocaust happened.
"The unusual sensitivity of Zionists and their American supporters toward Iran's stance over the Zionist state reveals their increased weakness and fear about the level of attention given by Islamic nations to the Palestinian issue," state-run Iranian radio quoted Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as saying.
"Despite the Zionist's campaign, the struggle against the occupiers has become an old and thick tree in the Islamic world such that the arrogant powers could not sever its roots," he added.
Khamenei did not refer specifically to Ahmadinejad's remarks made Thursday in Saudi Arabia on the sidelines of a Saudi Arabian summit of more than 50 Islamic nations, convened to show a Muslim front against terrorism.
But the United States, Israel, Europe, United Nations and even Iranian ally Russia condemned Ahmadinejad for casting doubt on whether the Nazi Holocaust took place and suggesting Europe give land for a Jewish state if it felt guilty about it.
Khamenei has ultimate say on all issues in Iran and backed similar controversial remarks made in October by Ahmadinejad, who said Israel should be "wiped off the map."
In a newspaper interview published earlier Saturday Nobel peace laureate and UN nuclear watchdog agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei appeared to warn Israel not to bomb Iranian atomic facilities.
"You cannot use force to prevent a country from obtaining nuclear weapons. By bombing them half to death, you can only delay the plans,"
ElBaradei was quoted as saying by the respected Oslo newspaper Aftenposten. "But they will come back, and they will demand revenge."
The report said ElBaradei did not mention Israel but it was clear he was referring to the Jewish state's increasingly open discussion over whether to protect itself by bombing Iranian facilities it suspects are being used in a possible secret nuclear weapons program.
Also Saturday, Iran's top nuclear official that his country will enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel in Iran despite US-led international efforts to curb such efforts.
"For me, there is no doubt that the process of producing nuclear fuel in Iran will be accomplished," Gholamreza Aghazadeh, head of the Atomic Organization of Iran, said during a press conference. "There is no doubt that we have to carry out uranium enrichment."
Aghazadeh, who is also an Iranian vice president, said Iran gave no date for when the processes would start, but stressed they would do so at some stage.
In an apparent goodwill gesture, Aghazadeh said, "Iran would not inject uranium gas into centrifuges and won't carry out enrichment" during upcoming Iranian talks with European negotiators.