TEHRAN, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- International pressure exerted on the Iranian government is designed to curtail its scientific progress, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei said.
Khamenei called on the nation's youth to make strides despite Western economic sanctions, designed to starve Iran of oil revenue it could use to finance its controversial nuclear program, the semiofficial Fars News Agency reported.
"The young elites and all the Iranian officials and nation should know that the main focus of the front which has today stood against the Islamic Republic is preventing the empowerment of Iran in the field of science and technology,"Khamenei said Wednesday.
Iranian nuclear officials this week said they have the technology to enrich uranium to the 20 percent purity level, a level seen as a threshold to the development of a nuclear weapon.
Iranian delegates head next week to Geneva for nuclear negations with representatives from the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, the so-called p5+1. Western leaders said they want assurances from Iran its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.
Speaker of the Iranian Parliament Ali Larijani said the government was eager to settle the nuclear issue politically but added he wasn't deterred by bellicose rhetoric from his adversaries.