Iran: We'll Speed Nuke Progress if U.S. Threats Continue

Iran's parliament speaker announced that his country will "speed up" its nuclear work if the Obama administration continues to target the Gulf country with sanctions, Iran's state-run PressTV reported.

"Even if U.S. President Barack Obama dares to repeat threats of tougher sanction against us as much as ten times, we will still be determined to pursue our enrichment program, but with a much faster pace," said Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani, reported by PressTV.

Larijani's comments Thursday came on the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, as Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned the West to stop putting obstacles in his country's path.

Khamenei said large pro-government rallies held Thursday should be a wake-up call for the "domestic enemies and deceived groups who claim to represent the people," saying it was time for "foreign enemies to abandon futile efforts to subjugate" Iran.

"The past 31 years are not enough to awaken a few arrogant and bullying states to their futile efforts to dominate this Islamic nation," said Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters.

In a nationally televised address from the anniversary gathering, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad boasted that Iran has become a "nuclear state." He said Iran has produced the first batch of 20 percent enriched uranium — sufficient strength to power Iran's research reactor — though he did not say how much uranium had been enriched.

The White House dismissed those nuclear claims on Thursday. Administration spokesman Robert Gibbs rejected Ahmadinejad’s assertions, saying Iran had "made a series of statements that are ... based on politics, not on physics."

Larijani, in his remarks, said the U.S. "cannot bear to see our progress" and that Iran's status in the interntaional community is changing the country for the better. He accused the U.S. of demonizing its scientific achievements by accusing them of being directed for military and spying purposes, PressTV reported.

Larijani also noted that the West has sought to spread discord among Iranians, saying they "want to keep us as an underdeveloped country."

Absent from Iranian media releases on the anniversary were mention of anti-government protests, where police fired tear gas to disperse activists and shot paintballs to mark them for arrest. The government has faced a crisis of legitimacy since holding contested elections in June that critics say were fixed, and which have led to a crackdown on dissent and access to the Internet and international media.

The government has regularly accused the U.S. and Britain of fomenting Iran's unrest. It has put more than 100 opposition activists and figures on trial since August on charges of fomenting the postelection turmoil. Ten have been sentenced to death and dozens to prison terms ranging from six months to 15 years.

The Associated Press has contributed to this article.