World powers failed to stop Iran from becoming a country that masters nuclear knowhow, and will “never” be able to stop its technological advancement, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at a rally in Tehran.
“No power is able to impose its will on the Iranian nation,” Ahmadinejad said during a ceremony in the capital today to mark the 34th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. “They failed to stop Iran from accessing nuclear technology. This will never happen.”
State television showed thousands of people massed at the Azadi, or Freedom, square in Tehran, where the president made his address. The state-run Press TV news channel had uninterrupted coverage of the state celebration, with images of crowds gathering in other major Iranian cities such as Isfahan, Mashhad and Tabriz.
Some demonstrators were shown holding banners that read “we will resist until the end” and “we heed your call, Oh Khamenei”, as well pictures of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic, and his successor, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Local reporters in Tehran covering the event for foreign media were asked by authorities to do so from designated areas alone.
Today’s state-backed rallies follow another round of U.S. financial sanctions that came into force four days ago to push the country to curb its nuclear program, which officials maintain is solely civilian. Last week, Khamenei rejected an approach by Vice President Joe Biden to hold direct talks over the issue. Khamenei said negotiations while the U.S. “holds a gun” to Iran “won’t solve a thing.”
Iran is to resume stalled multilateral discussions on its nuclear program with the U.S., U.K. France, Germany, Russia and China on Feb. 26 in Kazakhstan. The last round of negotiations between Iran and the group, known as P5+1, were held in Moscow in June and failed to yield results.
In his speech, Ahmadinejad enumerated areas, including industry, agriculture, energy and medicine, in which he said his country had boosted production or exports in the past three decades. The president didn’t mention the country’s economic challenges, such as a weakening currency and an inflation rate nearing 29 percent, which are partly the result of increased trade and financial sanctions from the U.S. and European Union.
Some 56 percent of Iranians say the international sanctions have hurt their livelihood a great deal, according to a Gallup survey carried out in December. Some 47 percent said the U.S. was mostly responsible for the sanctions, while 10 percent saw the Iranian government as most to blame. Some 63 percent of Iranians believe the nation should continue developing its nuclear program even with the sanctions, Gallup said.
Ahmadinejad, who’s leaving office in August, also alluded to his worsening dispute with parliamentary speaker Ali Larijani. The president said there were “issues” that he wanted to share with Iranians. “Because I don’t want to turn bitter the sweetness of the revolution’s anniversary, and for our dear leader, I will do so at a further date,” he said in comments aired live on state television.
Khamenei on Feb. 7 reiterated his order that the ruling elite end public bickering ahead of the June presidential election.