TEHRAN, June 8 (UPI) -- A leading ayatollah in Iran said Friday during a sermon that Western sanctions against Tehran were an inspiration for resistance.
The United States and its European allies have issued sanctions against Iran as the result of Tehran not being transparent about its nuclear program.
Ayatollah Mohammad Emani Kashini, interim leader of Friday prayers, said it was Islam that gave the Iranian nation its sense of pride.
"They (the West) thought that these sanctions would scare the Iranian nation, but in practice they infuriated the Iranian nation to resist them and not retreat," he was quoted by Iran's state-funded broadcaster Press TV as saying.
The cleric's statement came as Iranian envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency Ali Asghar Soltanieh sat down with U.N. nuclear negotiators in Vienna.
IAEA officials had said they were concerned about possible military dimensions to certain parts of Iran's nuclear program. Tehran is suspected of pursuing the technology needed to produce a nuclear weapon, an allegation the Iranian government denies.
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said at a meeting Monday in Vienna that Tehran wasn't providing the level of transparency needed to allay nuclear concerns.
Iran maintains the right to pursue a peaceful nuclear program under the terms of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.