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Iran's top ayatollah: We're trumping the West, but beware infighting at home

In a State of the Union-like speech before March elections, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei vowed to press on with Iran nuclear program, but warned of internal divisions between conservatives.

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One example was the announced launch into space today of another Iranian satellite, just hours before Friday prayers. Ahmadinejad helped launch the homemade satellite – Iran’s third, this one called “Good message of science and industry” – saying he hoped it “will send a signal of more friendship among all human beings.”

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"They said they would impose crippling, torturous, painful sanctions on us," said Khamenei. But decades of sanctions had prompted Iran's "great military achievements" these days.

"If they had set up the Bushehr nuclear power plant themselves, then we would not have this progress in enrichment. If they had not closed the gates of science on us, then we would not be progressing on space exploration, and sending satellites into orbit," said Khamenei. "So the more sanctions they impose against us, the more we turn to our own domestic power, skills and youths, and these talents [are] like a spring."

Praise for Arab revolts – except in Syria

Khamenei delivered the second portion of his speech in Arabic, to directly address Arab revolutionaries – and portray Iran as a pan-Islamic supporter of Islamic jihad and people's justice.

He praised the removal of dictators in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, and Yemen, but did not mention that NATO airstrikes enabled rebels to topple Col. Muammar Qaddafi in Libya. Nor did he once mention Syria, where Iran's closest regional ally, Bashar al-Assad, faces a similar people-power revolt that has left at least 6,000 dead so far.

"The century of Islam has come," said Khomeini, stating that Iran's example in 1979 paved the way by toppling a pro-American, pro-Israeli monarch. He claimed that "anger toward America" had increased 85 percent in Arab countries in the past year.

"The Arab people can no longer put up with the dictators," Khamenei said. "They can no longer put up with agents and spies [of the US and Israel] and tyrants in control. They are sick of this...."

Khamenei said "the revolutions must continue their march," and issued another warning: "Don't trust America and NATO ... they are becoming weaker and weaker very quickly. Their control on the Islamic world was only a result of our fear and our ignorance for 150 years."

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