TEHRAN - Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday condemned what he called "American Islam" as a backward form of the religion that only serves US interests, state television reported.
"American Islam is a backward Islam, filled with superstition, and a form of Islam that falls in line with American principles and Western ideas," he said in an address to top officials, including President Mohammad Khatami.
"The Islamic nation will have a bright future, only by resorting to the pure Islam of Mohammad, which is the Islam of unity of Muslims and resistance against arrogance," Khamenei added.
Iran's influential former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, meanwhile, denied US accusations over Iran's nuclear plans and stressed their "peaceful" purposes.
"Our country has got used to such threats and US accusations are nothing new," he said in an interview with Iran's Arabic-language Al-Alam television channel.
Rafsanjani said the "peaceful use" of nuclear energy was the "natural demand of the Iranian government and nation".
"Americans advised Iran to generate 20,000 megawatts of electricity during the former regime and submitted plans for building power plants. Now they say Iran does not need nuclear power since it has abundant oil and gas," he said.
"How come we needed atomic plants at that time (of the pro-West shah) when our daily oil production stood at six million barrels, whereas now that only 3.5 million barrels per day is produced we do not need such plants?" he asked.
"We have decided to produce 7,000 megawatts of nuclear power. We need fuel for our plants and we should create a fuel cycle, independently," he insisted.
Rafsanjani also rejected as "baseless" US charges that Tehran was sheltering leaders of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network after the 2001 US-led war in Afghanistan that ousted the hardline Taliban militia.
"The Taliban and al-Qaeda were founded by Americans themselves and certain Arab countries next to the Islamic republic in order to oppose Iran," he said.