Reuters: Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s top authority, said on Tuesday the Islamic Republic had won a victory in its nuclear programme. TEHRAN (Reuters) – Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s top authority, said on Tuesday the Islamic Republic had won a victory in its nuclear programme.
In his first public comment on the nuclear issue since a U.N. watchdog report last week, Khamenei also praised the handling of the case by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has often alarmed the West with speeches vowing no compromise.
The International Atomic Energy Agency said in the report that Iran had clarified issues raised as part of a work plan agreed in August, but not claims of alleged studies into the possible weaponisation of nuclear materials.
Western capitals fear Iran is seeking to master technology to build atomic bombs. Tehran denies the charge, saying it wants the skills needed to generate electricity so it can preserve more of its huge oil and gas reserves for export.
“One example of an advance by the Islamic system has been the nuclear issue, in which the Iranian nation has honestly and seriously realised a great victory … ,” Khamenei was quoted by state radio as telling Iranian officials.
Khamenei said those opposed to Iran’s nuclear programme were giving ground because of Iran’s determination.
“Those people who used to say Iran’s nuclear activity must be dismantled are now saying we are ready to accept your advances, on condition that it will not continue indefinitely.”
“This is a great advance that would not have been realised except with perseverance,” he said.
Khamenei has the final say in all matters of state, including nuclear policy, under Iran’s system of clerical rule which puts his word above that of the president and other state bodies.
The supreme leader’s remarks echoed those of Ahmadinejad who said in his reaction to the IAEA report that experience had shown that when Iran resisted the West’s demands, Iran’s opponents backed down.
“(Khamenei) regarded the role of the person of the president in the advance of the nuclear as outstanding,” radio quoted Khamenei as saying.
The U.N. Security Council has demanded Iran halt uranium enrichment, the part of its nuclear programme that most worries the West because the process can be used to make fuel for power plants or, potentially, material for bombs.
Iran has refused and now faces a possible third round of U.N. sanctions.
(Writing by Edmund Blair; editing by Keith Weir)