Iran's leader warns opposition

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The Independent Online

Iran's supreme leader told the opposition they would face a harsh response if they drew their "swords" against the ruling establishment.

The warning from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, delivered yesterday at weekly prayers three months after a disputed poll that led to widespread unrest, was a clear message he would not tolerate any threat to Iran's clerical system of government. "Resisting the system and taking out the sword against the system will be followed by a harsh response," he told worshippers in a sermon broadcast live on state television.

"If somebody stands against the basis of the (Islamic) system and violates people's security, the system is forced to stand against it," he said.

During his lengthy sermon Khamenei did not address proposals that Tehran delivered to international powers involved in efforts to resolve the issue of Iran's nuclear programme Instead he reiterated that the Islamic state should not back down on its "nuclear rights." "It is a sign of deviation to give up one's rights, nuclear rights or non-nuclear rights, instead of insisting on them, Khamenei said.

It was Khamenei's first Friday prayers sermon since the controversial June elections. He has since endorsed President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's victory, blamed the opposition for bloodshed and accused Western powers of interfering in Iran's affairs.

The Supreme Leader, who has final say on all matters of state, added criticism and differences among officials were acceptable.

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