TEHRAN, April 19 (UPI) -- During a speech on Sunday, the supreme leader of Iran said the United States "created the myth of nuclear weapons" in order to paint Iran as a threat.
The comments come as detailed negotiations over Iran's nuclear program are set to continue this week. Earlier this month negotiators from China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States reached a political agreement with Iran over the framework of a deal designed to limit the Islamic republic's nuclear capability in exchange for a lift of economic sanctions.
Speaking to military commanders in a televised address, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the United States has "methodically and shamelessly" threatened Iran militarily.
"They created the myth of nuclear weapons so they could say the Islamic Republic is a source of threat," The Guardian quoted Khamenei as saying. "No, the source of threat is America itself, with its unrestrained, destabilizing interventions."
Khamenei has expressed his support for Iran's negotiating team but has issued multiple statements indicating his mistrust of the United States. In the past Iran has toughened its rhetoric against the West and unveiled new weapon systems amid the talks.
The negotiations, which will resume in Vienna this week, aim toward a detailed technical agreement by June 30.
U.S. President Barack Obama said the political agreement in early April could lead to a comprehensive deal that would make the United States and the world safer, but Khamenei expressed less optimism.
In his first public comments following the framework agreement, Khamenei said there was no guarantee that a final deal would be reached and that the "other side is stubborn, difficult to deal with, breaks promises and is a backstabber."
Both sides still disagree on multiple issues, including how much and how quickly economic sanctions should be lifted.
In a meeting with Italy's ambassador to Tehran on Sunday, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, chairman of Iran's expediency council, was quoted by Iranian state media as saying that if the talks "were continued based on diplomatic principles and mutual respects, they would bear fruits at the earliest."