TEHRAN - Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei urged officials on Monday to press on with nuclear work and take no heed of US allegations Tehran is seeking a nuclear weapon, two days before a new round of Iran-EU nuclear talks.
"I advise the officials not to pay attention to the enemies' threats and to go their own way, doing their job," Khamenei said in the northeastern city of Mashhad, in an address broadcast on state television.
"Americans know well producing an atomic bomb in Iran is a myth and there is absolutely no truth to that," he said. "We are not seeking atomic bombs as Islam does not allow us to confront even our enemies like that."
Khamenei's comments came two days before a new round of Iran-EU nuclear negotiations start in Paris, where a steering committee has to evaluate work done since December and decide how talks can go on.
The European Union has since December been trying in talks to get Iran to abandon crucial nuclear fuel cycle activities in return for a package of trade, technology and security rewards.
The United States is now backing the Europeans by offering to help out with the incentives.
Ideally, the European Union would like Iran permanently to give up uranium enrichment, which makes what can be fuel for civilian nuclear reactors but also the explosive core of atomic bombs.
Iran insists it does not even consider abandoning enrichment to be on the table in the talks, despite its having temporarily suspended enrichment as a confidence-building measure.
US President George W. Bush said Wednesday that the United States and its European allies would seek UN Security Council action against Iran if Tehran rejected incentives to limit its nuclear programs.
"We are not like the US president and statesmen who hid themselves in the couple of days after September 11," Khamenei said. "If... our nation had to go through an ordeal we (Iran leaders) would be the first ones to get into combat gear and sacrifice."
"Americans must not set their hearts on their insiders and mercenaries in Iran. The nation loathes the ones who pretend to be the opposition and protect foreigners' interests in this country, using Americans' money," he added.
In February 2004, a group of legislators introduced in the US House of Representatives a draft bill, the Iran Freedom Support Act, which would provide further political and financial support for so-called pro-democracy elements, especially opposition television and radio.