Iran will not beg world powers for its right to develop nuclear technology and has shown it will not retreat from the 'field of danger' to protect such rights, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Monday.
The defiant remarks by the Islamic Republic's highest authority come two days ahead of a summit of the Group of Eight top industrialised nations that is expected to include discussions about the row over Iran's nuclear programme.
World powers have demanded Iran to halt uranium enrichment, a process Western nations say Tehran is mastering so it can build atomic bombs. Tehran insists its plans have purely civilian goals and has refused to halt the work.
"Do you think the Iranian nation will beg for reaching its nuclear rights so that bullying powers will accept this? ... No, this is not the spirit of a free and independent nation," Khamenei said in a televised speech.
Iran insists it has the right to enrich uranium to make fuel for nuclear power plants under international treaty. Western nations say it needs to convince the world of its peaceful goals before it can enjoy that right.
The UN Watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, says Iran still needs to answer questions about its plans before Tehran's atomic programme can be given a clean bill of health.
"The world has learnt from experience that an Iranian will never step back from the field of danger when defending his rights," Khamenei said in remarks to mark the anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Islamic Republic's founder who died in 1989.
The UN Security Council has slapped two rounds of sanctions on Iran since December for failing to halt enrichment. G8 foreign ministers said last week Iran faced further sanction for failing to stop the sensitive atomic work.
Talks on Thursday between Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana, who has been representing world powers, failed to break a deadlock in the dispute but they agreed to meet again later this month.
Khamenei accused Iran's "enemy" -- usually used to refer to the United States -- of waging a "psychological war" and seeking to divide Iranians ahead of parliamentary elections in March.
"This next parliamentary election will be another way (to show) the nation's dignity and growth," he said. He also accused "the enemy" of seeking to divide the Islamic world, to which the crowd chanted "Death to America.