TEHRAN (Reuters) -Iran’s highest authority, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Monday Tehran would not give up its development of nuclear technology in the face of Western pressure, state media reported.
“The Iranian nation surely will not abandon its right and Iranian officials have no right to deprive the nation of its right,” Khamenei was quoted as saying on the occasion of the Shi’ite Muslim feast of Eid al-Ghadir.
Khamenei, who was shown on television addressing visiting clerics from the holy city of Qom, was making his first public appearance since rumors appeared on Web sites on Thursday that he had died. Iran last week denied the reports.
Khamenei has the final say on all state matters in the Islamic Republic, including the nuclear standoff with the West.
The U.N. Security Council voted unanimously on December 23 to impose sanctions on Iran’s trade in sensitive nuclear materials and technology in an attempt to stop uranium enrichment work that could produce material that could be used in bombs.
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called the resolution a “piece of torn paper” and has vowed to press ahead with Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.
The West fears Iran may be pursuing nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian program.
Khamenei said Iran’s nuclear program was no threat to Middle East countries.
“Our nuclear technology is a native achievement. It is a source of honor for Iran and the Islamic world,” he said to chants of “Nuclear technology is our right.”
“Muslim countries should know that this power belongs to them.”
Khamenei said the United States’ regional policies have failed and called on Muslims to preserve their unity against “arrogant powers.”
“America’s policies have failed in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Afghanistan … now America … is trying to create discord among Shi’ites and Sunnis,” he said.
“Regional countries should pay attention and not fall into America’s dangerous trap.”
The deputy head of Iran’s volunteer Basij militia warned on Monday that pressuring Iran could result in the disruption of international oil flows through the strategic Gulf waterway.
“We control the strait of Hormuz. It is the only way for the flow of 40 percent of the world’s energy,” Commander Majid Mirahmadi told the semi-official Fars news agency.
Iran controls one side of the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow waterway at the mouth of the Gulf through which about two fifths of the world’s globally traded oil passes.
He did not say how those flows would be affected but some Iranian officials have previously hinted Iran, the world’s fourth largest oil exporter, could use oil as a weapon in its nuclear standoff with the West.
Mirahmadi said any aggression against Iran could stir trouble for the United States or Israel, which Iran refuses to recognize.
Israel has refused to rule out pre-emptive military action against Iran along the lines of its 1981 air strike against an atomic reactor in Iraq.
“We can endanger the Zionist regime’s security … Iran’s message is security for everyone or no one,” Mirahmadi said.