Iran’s top leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, warned Sunday that energy supplies from the Gulf region would be disrupted if Iran came under attack from the United States and insisted his country would not give up the right to produce nuclear fuel.
“If you make any mistake (and invade Iran), definitely shipment of energy from this region will be seriously jeopardized. You have to know this,” Khamenei said in a speech broadcast live on state-run radio.
Khamenei warned that the U.S. and its allies would not be able to provide security for all oil shipments that cross the strategic Hormuz Strait near Iran should a disruption occur.
“You will never be able to protect energy supply in this region. You will not be able to do it,” he said, addressing the West.
Khamenei, however, did not elaborate on how oil supplies would be disrupted and insisted Iran would not start any war. “We won’t be the initiator of war,” he said.
The supreme leader’s harsh rhetoric came a day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said a breakthrough in negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear program was possible and welcomed unconditional talks with all parties, including the United States.
Ahmadinejad said late Saturday that his government would not rush to judge an incentives package offered by Western countries to persuade Iran to cease enriching uranium.
Khamenei appeared to take a tougher line Sunday.
“That a country has no right to achieve proficiency in nuclear technology means it has to beg a few Western and European countries for energy in the next 20 years,” he said. “Which honest leader is ready to accept this?”
Khamenei said Iran was not a threat to any country and called accusations that Tehran was seeking nuclear weapons “wrong, a sheer lie.”
“We have not threatened any neighbor,” he said.
Ahmadinejad, however, has repeatedly questioned Israel’s right to exist and said the country should be wiped off the map.
The United States and other Western nations suspect Iran’s nuclear program is intended to produce weapons, but Tehran insists it is only for generating electricity.
“We have no target to use a nuclear bomb. It’s against Islamic teachings,” Khamenei said Sunday.
'We have no claim to dominate'
The Islamic republic’s supreme leader said that the production and maintenance of an atomic bomb would “impose a lot of irrelevant costs,” and that a state like Iran did not need such a weapon.
“Unlike the U.S., we have no claim to dominate the world,” he added.
In a major policy shift, the United States agreed this week to join France, Britain and Germany in talks with Iran, provided Tehran suspends all suspect nuclear activities. It would be the first major public negotiations between Washington and Tehran in more than 25 years.
Six world powers agreed Thursday to offer Iran a new package of incentives if it gives up uranium enrichment and to impose sanctions if it refuses. Washington warned Friday that Iran does not have much time to respond, suggesting the window could close and be replaced by penalties.