Leader's Address to a Large Gathering in Mashhad

The following is an excerpt from an address made by the Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei to a large gathering of people comprising tens of thousands of residents and visiting pilgrims in the holy city of Mashhad on March 21, 2005, the Iranian New Year's Day.
In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds, and peace and greetings be upon our Master and Prophet, Ab-il-Qassem al-Mustafa Muhammad, and upon his Immaculate and Infallible Household, especially what remains with Allah on earth.

I am grateful to Almighty Allah for granting me the opportunity to meet a large group of faithful and devoted brothers and sisters and sincere followers of the Holy Prophet's Household (peace and greetings be upon them) at the sacred mausoleum of His Holiness Imam Ali-ibn-Mousa Ar-Reza (peace and greetings be upon him) on the New Year's Day.

Our first word is the expression of sincerity and devotion to this magnanimous Imam. I hope your enthusiastic and eager hearts, through supplication before this holy mausoleum and in the presence of the blessed and immaculate soul of this beneficent Imam, will be favored with divine grace and favor.

In our meeting today with the dear residents of Mashhad and honorable pilgrims who have traveled here from other cities, I am going to talk about the issues that are of the utmost importance to our country and nation, including the gist of the New Year's Message, the issue of the upcoming presidential election and also the necessary measures that should be taken to counteract the plots being hatched and the threats being posed by the enemies of our nation.

As regards the New Year's Message, the gist of the message is that in order for the Iranian nation to achieve progress in different areas, the progress and prosperity that our nation rightly deserves, national solidarity and public participation should be further promoted in all arenas in which the presence of our nation is required.

The country belongs to our nation. The future also belongs to our people. Our nation has a pivotal role in the progress and development of our country both today and tomorrow. Therefore, the designation of the current year as ‘the Year of National Solidarity and Public Participation' indicates the great requirements of cooperation, congruity, joining hands and hearts together and advancement toward the lofty objectives of the nation in all areas.

The designation of the current and past years have not been intended as mere formalities, but rather to indicate the general tendency and direction of the Iranian nation and government and the objectives that they are trying to achieve or are expected to pursue.

'The Year of Alawi Conduct' (the year of following the conduct of Imam Ali (greetings be upon him)) set a noble objective for the Iranian nation and government officials. 'The Year of Serving the Public' or ‘the Year of Accountability' also set the course of action for government officials. These mottos in fact refer to what the Iranian nation expects of the Islamic government.

The reason why there are calls for a campaign to demand and administer justice or a software movement to open new horizons in science or a movement to promote broad-mindedness is that the officials and the people should bear in mind that they shoulder significant duties in this respect. Our country needs these mottos and slogans.

Of course we know that some of these mottos have not been fully realized over the past years. However, many valuable measures have been taken. Every year, by drawing on the experience obtained over the previous years, the people and the government should take greater strides toward the accomplishment of the lofty goals of the country and the nation.

What our nation needs is competition among government officials to serve the public. The nation expects the officials to be accountable for their policies and actions. These are not transient mottos, but they indicate the different aspects of the officials' duties and the nation's demands and expectations.

The competition to serve the public should replace mud-slinging and character assassination. The accomplishment of the noble objectives and ideals of the great, valorous and dedicated Iranian nation should be expedited by delineating bright and promising prospects before the eyes of the young generation and promoting unity, brotherhood and congruity in society.

The Iranian nation can achieve its goals and overcome different problems and obstacles only when faith and jihad are recognized as values by government officials. Jihad also includes scientific, economic, managerial and justice-seeking campaigns. If government officials and people pay heed to these slogans, the Iranian nation will be able to move faster toward the accomplishment of its ideals.

This year, national solidarity, in particular, bears special significance for the following reasons. First of all, we are facing the very important issue of the upcoming presidential election. Second, the Iranian nation is once again expected to foil and neutralize the plots of the enemies of Islamic Iran through its solidarity and participation. The presidential election is less than three months ahead. There are many things to talk about in this regard, and I will talk to the Iranian people about them during the time that we have until the election.

Today, I would like to mention a few points about the upcoming presidential election. The first point is that the presence of the Iranian people on the scene of the presidential election, presence inspired by their awareness and vigilance, will play a decisive role in sealing the fate of our country, which relies on our people's votes.

The reason why the enemies of our nation and those casting a covetous eye on our homeland have not been able over the past 26 years to inflict any harm on our nation is because the Iranian people have been present on various scenes with strong will and determination.

The rallies and parades of the Iranian people on the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution victory or on the Quds Day and their participation in various elections during the past years have been instrumental in protecting our country. Public participation in elections will not only be conducive to deciding the fate and management of our country but it will also play a significant role in counteracting the threats posed by our enemies.

The next point is that taking part in elections is both a civil right and a national duty. The Islamic Republic invested the Iranian people with the right to elect the officials of their government. All the Iranian people across the country have an equal right to elect the chief executive of the Islamic Republic. Besides, participation in electing the president is a national duty as well, since it keeps the spirit of commitment and responsibility alive in society and shows the enemies the decisive role of our nation.

I would also like to stress the fact that the upcoming presidential election is more significant compared with the previous elections in this country. The reason is that the country's Fourth Development Plan will be initiated this year. The Fourth Development Plan constitutes the first phase of the 20-Year Perspective Document.

Today, by the favor of Allah, our country has attained such great capabilities that it has been able to delineate a bright perspective and draw up clear plans for its next 20 years with the intention of preparing the ground for the accomplishment of the noble objectives and lofty ideals of the Iranian nation.

The 20-Year Perspective Document constitutes four five-year development plans, the first of which will be initiated this year. Our country needs a competent and dynamic chief executive who will be able to provide strong pillars and firm cornerstones for this plan through effective measures.

In the upcoming presidential election, the Iranian people will have a chance to vote for a candidate who will be efficient enough to remove the obstacles preventing the implementation of the plan, like a bulldozer that clears and levels the ground and thus prepares the ground for progress and going forward.

Over the past years since the end of the war until today, many valuable measures have been taken and effective plans have been carried out in this country, especially in the areas of infrastructure, construction and development and scientific and technological progress. What is important today is that the achievements made over the past years show their effect on the everyday lives of the Iranian people. This requires removing the existing obstacles and solving the problems. Therefore, a competent and dynamic chief executive is needed for the job.

In the upcoming presidential election slated for June 17, the people should vote with vigilance and awareness. They should vote for a candidate who is efficient, courageous, dedicated, loyal to the rights of the nation and devoted to the Islamic values and revolutionary ideals. Voting in the forthcoming election is one of the most vital and important instances of public participation in the current year.

Presidential candidates will be introduced to the public in due course. The people living across the country enjoy an equal right to vote for the president of the Islamic Republic. The strong will and resolve of the nation will emanate from the union of individuals. This is an effective element in preparing the ground for the country's progress and development and in counteracting the threats posed by the enemies.

The enemies' threats are something quite natural. Any nation that decides to live independently and free from the yoke of the world's arrogant and domineering powers will naturally become the target of threats and intimidations of these powers.

The Iranian nation have become used to the threatening remarks uttered by the arrogant powers, since for the past 26 years the world's aggressive and expansionist powers led by the United States have been threatening and intimidating our nation. However, the Iranian people have continued to tread their path regardless of these threats and intimidations.

Today, the Islamic Republic enjoys much more capabilities than the day when the Islamic Revolution achieved victory in this country. The Iranian nation is now much stronger and more advanced in scientific, technological, economic and military areas.

My first recommendation to government officials is that they should not be diverted from their duties and responsibilities by the enemies' threats. They should continue to perform their duties. Our nation and our government should always be prepared. Under no circumstances should they ignore the threats, but they should not be diverted from their duties by the threatening remarks and uproar and commotion of the enemies either.

Today, the commotion being raised and the threats that are being uttered by U.S. officials mostly relate to Iran's nuclear technology. U.S. officials, including U.S. president, are falsely claiming that Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons. U.S. officials know very well that the Islamic Republic is not seeking nuclear weapons, and such claims are by no means true. But what actually worries them is a powerful, developed, independent and Islamic Iran enjoying modern technologies.

They are opposed to the progress and development of the Iranian nation. They do not want an Islamic and independent country to achieve scientific progress and possess advanced technology in the Middle East region, a region which possesses most of the world's oil and which is one of the most sensitive regions in the world.

The fact of the matter is that Western powers would like the nations in the Middle East region, including the Iranian nation, to be always dependent on them. This is why they say that it does not matter if we have nuclear power plants, but they insist that we should buy nuclear fuel for our power plants form them!

As I pointed out in an address on the New Year's Day a few years ago, if the oil that is currently produced by our country and other states in the Middle East region were possessed by Europeans and Western countries and we were to buy it from them, they would sell us each barrel of oil at a higher price than the price of oil they currently buy from this region. They would even refuse to sell it to us.

They are worried about anything that can help the regional nations to achieve independence, self-reliance and self-sufficiency. They want this populous region, which is rich in mineral resources, to be in need of them forever. This is why they are opposed to our possessing modern technology and to our youngsters making progress in scientific areas.

They are also opposed to our using nuclear energy and, if they can, they would even express their opposition to our having oil, as once they took advantage of the inefficiency and treason of the rulers of regional countries and plundered their oil.

For many years, Iran's oil was at the disposal of the British, who were later replaced by the Americans. This is what Western powers want. They are worried to see that a country like Iran has nuclear power plants, is able to produce nuclear fuel for its power plants and is not dependent on European countries or others. This is what bothers them.

Nuclear energy, which is a valuable energy and the outcome of an advanced technology, is necessary for our nation. Most of the power plants in developed countries are nuclear power plants. Generating electricity by using nuclear energy is a technological breakthrough for a nation.

Western powers are trying to deprive the Iranian nation of this major technological advance. This is the main reason for their commotion and clamor. But they are falsely claiming that they fear the Islamic Republic may build nuclear bombs, although they know very well that Iran has no plans to build nuclear weapons. This is a point that should be heeded by our nation and our young people.

What is currently being said by Western propaganda apparatus, especially the United States, about our intention to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is aimed at depriving the Iranian nation of a scientific and technological breakthrough. Using nuclear energy for peaceful purposes is an undeniable right of the Iranian nation. Why should our nation be deprived of its right?

It is quite clear that the Iranian people will not forego their undeniable right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, which also has various applications in the field of medicine. It is environment-friendly and ensures bright prospects for the progress of our young generation.

In order to hide their diabolical goals, the lying and hypocritical U.S. officials are falsely claiming that the Islamic Republic is trying to build nuclear warheads in order to equip its ballistic missiles with those warheads. For what reason should we do this? We would not even treat our enemies like this.

It is the United States itself that is capable of deploying nuclear bombs against other nations. So far, it is the only country that has committed this horrendous crime. Also, it was the Western countries that provided the Ba'thist Iraqi regime with chemical weapons during its eight-year war against the Islamic Republic. They kept silent about the disasters that were created by the Iraqi regime through the deployment of chemical weapons and extended covert support to the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.

We are not allowed by our religion Islam to commit such acts. We use science and technology to achieve progress and development.

The Iranian people should know that those few individuals here and there who favor foregoing our legitimate right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy are inadvertently serving the interests of the enemies. They should also realize that the arrogant powers led by the United States always try to find some pretexts for threatening other nations. These powers seek to attain their goals by threatening other nations. Unfortunately, many countries tend to back off in the face of threats and pave the way for these powers to further influence and interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.

Today, U.S. pretext for threatening the Islamic Republic is the issue of nuclear energy. In the absence of this issue, they can easily find other pretexts for the same purpose.

Despite the fact that the United States itself has the greatest role in fomenting terrorism and supporting terrorists in the world, U.S. officials are accusing the Islamic Republic and Muslims of committing acts of terrorism. U.S. troops and security forces are perpetrating the ugliest crimes in different parts of the occupied Iraq, and their heinous acts at AbuGhuraib prison are just an instance of the atrocities they are committing in that country.

As far as I know and according to the available information and statistics, perhaps no country in the world has violated human rights as much as the United States has done. They insult and trample on the rights of human beings in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo and even in their own prisons. But they flagrantly accuse other nations of violating human rights.

In addition to their crimes in various parts of the world, they are also committing human rights violations in the United States itself. African Americans are still suffering from oppression, prejudice, discrimination and different pressures. During the presidency of George Bush, Sr., African Americans staged a great riot in some states because of the oppression and injustice that they were suffering. Since the police could not quell the riot, the army was called in.

At the time of the next U.S. president, Bill Clinton, more than eighty members of an American religious group known as Branch Davidians, a Christian cult opposed to the U.S. government's policies, were burned in their headquarters alive, since they refused to come out of their buildings and surrender to federal agents. However, those claiming to support human rights did not turn a hair! This is what they describe as observing and advocating human rights!

Under the incumbent U.S. president, when the United States was trying to occupy Afghanistan, American forces not only dropped bombs on Afghan civilians and destroyed their homes in cities and villages, but they also massacred a large number of prisoners at a prison in northern Afghanistan. But the West's media empire prevented the report form circulating in the world.

Despite all these crimes and human rights violations committed by the United States, U.S. officials are accusing other countries, including the Islamic Republic, of violating human rights. The banner of human rights is carried by those who have committed the most human rights violations themselves.

I advise our nation and our government officials to continue performing their duties and treading their path regardless of the threatening remarks uttered by the enemies. But of course it is clear that relevant officials should remain watchful and vigilant. They should avoid falling into neglect.

It is also worthy of mention that the Iranian officials, unlike belligerent U.S. officials, do not favor war and bloodshed. However, if some day the honor and dignity of our nation and the interests of our country are at stake, the Iranian officials like every other Iranian citizen will be ready to make all kinds of sacrifice.

Following the September 11 incident in the United States, there was no sign of U.S. president George W. Bush, the vice president and other top officials of the United States for two or three days. They had gone missing!

But the Iranian officials are not like them. If an unpleasant event happens to the Iranian nation, we, the officials, will put on military uniforms and get ready to make any kind of sacrifice ahead of our nation.

The Iranian nation's most effective weapon for countering threats is national solidarity and harmony. The Iranian nation does not need nuclear arms for this purpose. Harmony, solidarity, clinging to divine rope and religious belief constitute the Iranian nation's most effective weapon. It is a weapon which has shown its efficiency for the past 26 years since the victory of the Islamic Revolution and which will do so in the years ahead.

You should try to preserve your unity and solidarity. The enemy has targeted the unity of the Iranian people. The enemy is vainly pinning hopes on his mercenaries and infiltrators in our country. Today, U.S. officials are openly saying that they are going to financially support those individuals in Iran who further U.S. goals. They are saying that they intend to patronize dissidents, or as they put it opposition groups, in Iran by spending money.

They have not known the Iranian nation yet. It should be clear to everybody that those who are paid by the United States to further U.S. interests in this country and who at the same time pose as opposition figures will be the most hated individuals in the eyes of the Iranian people.

The Iranian nation, especially the intellectuals, students and youngsters, should realize that national solidarity and public participation constitute the solution to all the problems facing our country.

Join your hearts together and foster harmony among yourselves. Invoke divine assistance and utilize the numerous talents, capabilities and potentials that Almighty Allah has bestowed on our nation. If you do so, you will be favored with divine assistance.

Surely the future of our nation will be much better and brighter than its past. I hope that the Iranian people will also be favored with the blessed prayer of His Holiness Baqiyatollah (Imam of the Age) - may Almighty Allah expedite his auspicious reappearance.

I pray to Almighty Allah to bestow His grace, favor and remission on the pure souls of our venerated martyrs and the immaculate soul of our late magnanimous Imam. I entrust you all to Almighty Allah.

Greetings be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessings