President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared on Thursday that Iran was the world's "number one" power, as he launched a bitter new assault on domestic critics he accused of siding with the enemy.
"Everybody has understood that Iran is the number one power in the world," Ahmadinejad said in a speech to families who lost loved ones in the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war.
"Today the name of Iran means a firm punch in the teeth of the powerful and it puts them in their place," he added in the address broadcast live on state television.
Ahmadinejad's comments come amid renewed Western efforts on the UN Security Council to agree a third package of sanctions against Tehran over its refusal to suspend sensitive nuclear activities.
They also came a day after former top nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani launched an unprecedented attack on Ahmadinejad's foreign policy, accusing him of using "coarse slogans and grandstanding".
"You can see how some people here... try to materialise the plans of the enemies and by showing that Iran is small and the enemy is big," added Ahmadinejad.
"These are the people who put the enemies of humanity in the place of God," said the deeply religious president.
He also told the families of the "martyrs" of the war that their loss was not in vain as the message of the Islamic revolution of 1979 that ousted the pro-US shah was spreading all over the world.
"Today the message of your revolution is being heard in South America, East Asia, in the heart of Europe and even in the United States itself," he said.
Ahmadinejad said he talked with people everywhere he travelled in the world and "it is like I am in district 17 in Tehran", referring to the low-income area in the south of the Iranian capital where he was giving his speech.
Ahmadinejad is due to travel to Iraq on Sunday in the first visit by a president of the Islamic republic to its western neighbour.
Copyright AFP 2008,