The West is lying when it claims that harsh economic sanctions imposed on Iran will be lifted if the Islamic Republic halts its nuclear progress, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday, adding that the "enemies" were exaggerating the extent of the sanctions' damage.
Khamenei's comments came amid heightened tension in Iran over the accelerated drop of the country's currency, the rial.
Last week, riot police fired tear gas, fought demonstrators and arrested money changers in and around the main bazaar in Tehran, with, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad blaming speculators for the rial's slide, which is eating into living standards and destroying jobs in the industrial sector.
Referring to the reports of increased economic strain in the Islamic Republic, Iran's leader said in a speech in North Khorassan province on Wednesday that Tehran's "enemies and (their) media are magnifying the issue of sanctions and some (inside Iran) accompany them as well."
Cited by Iranian media, Khamenei said that embargoes and sanctions were imposed on Iran even before the world began protesting against its nuclear program, saying that the West says that if Iran "desists from its nuclear energy right, they will remove sanctions, but they lie."
"[The existence of] a relationship between the sanctions and Iran's nuclear issue is a lie, and it is the pride and rise and persistence of the Iranian nation which has angered them (the enemies)," Ayatollah Khamenei was cited by both the Fars news agency and Press TV as saying.
The Iranian Supreme Leader's speech came as earlier in the day Iranian Mehr news agency reported that Iran was coordinating a planned visit by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Yukiya Amano to Tehran in order to resume nuclear talks with Iranian officials, Iran's foreign minister said Wednesday.
Mehr cited Iranian Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Salehi as saying that the Iranian IAEA mission in Vienna was in contact with Amano to arrange the visit. He did not give a date.
The aim of the visit is, like Amano's most recent trip to Tehran in May, to reach an agreement on an IAEA inspection of the military site Parchin near Tehran, where the UN nuclear watchdog wants to look for signs of possible nuclear warhead tests.
Iran says that it would allow access to the Parchin site and also suspend enriching uranium at 20 percent for its Tehran medical reactor if the country's right for pursuing civil nuclear technology was acknowledged and sanctions lifted.