In an October 19, 2022 meeting with top Iranian academics, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei called for investing in the country's elite, particularly its scientific elite, and touted the nuclear, drone, and missile accomplishments of Iran's Islamic revolutionary regime, as well as its achievements in launching satellites into space, stem cell and vaccine research, and more. Khamenei stressed that Iran needs scientific advancement in all these areas in order to stand against the West, headed by the U.S. which seeks to continue its tradition of controlling other countries, expropriating their assets, and maintaining its colonialism and imperialism. He added that mastery of the higher sciences – but not for making nuclear or chemical weapons or for developing advanced weaponry – will stop this from happening.
He stated that the achievements of Iran's nuclear program had come primarily from the Iranian elite's progress, noting that while at first they relied on negligible knowledge from outside Iran, most of the development was Iranian and domestic. He went on to boast of Iran's missile and drone industry as "very dangerous" to the West, hinting at the Russia-Ukraine war, and stressed that in his view, anyone using their talents to produce a nuclear bomb or chemical weapons does not belong to the elite because they are immoral. He also discusses the recent anti-hijab protests by university students, hinting that "the enemy" is behind them.
To view the MEMRI TV clip of Khamenei speaking at the meeting, click here or below:
The following are the main points of Khamenei's full statements at the October 19 meeting with Iran's academic elite:
"People [now] are understanding more the fact that many of our problems in recent years were administrative problems. There was a solution, [but] the government [of previous Iranian president Hassan Rouhani] paid no attention to this solution. Now, we hope that the current government [of President Ebrahim Raisi] will act seriously to implement it, and it is possible to see the signs of this...
"The elite is one of the country's most important human resources. It is true that the country's natural resources are important, geography is important, climate is important – all these are important. But one of the most important things is the existence of the elite; the elite must be considered a tremendous treasure. If we see it as a great treasure, we will try to encourage it and to create more of it, and we will see its loss as damaging... When we realize that this is an important and vital treasure, our treatment of it will be shaped accordingly. Therefore, we must know this, everyone must know this – even senior state officials and influential individuals in the state's public sphere.
"The scientific elite, and in fact the university [community], are the backbone of developing the country. This means that an important layer of the country's progress is the university, and at the university, primarily the scientific elite. For this reason, it can be seen that at various intersections of time, not only yesterday and the day before [a reference to the students' recent anti-hijab protests], there have been attempts to shut down the universities, to close classrooms, to prevent children and teachers from going to class. This is because the university plays an essential role. Anyone warning a professor by phone that if he goes [to the university something] will happen is not necessarily the main culprit; the agent behind the scenes is who is important. The reason for this is that the university is important and vital to the country's development. Any university that is thwarted, [impacted by a] strike, destroyed, or harmed is a success for the enemies of the state and the enemies [operating] against the country's progress. Therefore, the university is one of the mainstays of the country's progress.
"The university is one of the biggest obstacles to the rule of the arrogance [the U.S.]. We must know this. The aim of the global powers is control. By what means? One day with weapons, the next through fraud, the day after with the use of science. They gain control also by using science. The university prevents this control. That is, if you manage to raise the level of science in the country, you have created an obstacle to the enemy's control of the country.
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"[Another] element in creating an elite is man's natural talent, good thinking, good intelligence, a good mind – these are a divine gift. This is no longer the work of man; God provides this... The omnipotent God can give our elite a powerful mind, good thinking, essential training, and sharp eyes. The second element in becoming elite is man's effort and work. At the same time, there are many people who have been given this divine gift [but] do no work, make no efforts, and get nowhere. They do not develop, nor do they help the country [to develop]... We still have [such people] – once, we had many more. Therefore, the second foundation for creating an elite has to do with effort and persistence...
"The blessing of the Islamic Revolution provided the ground [for the growth of the elite]. I say this openly and fervently – that is, this is something about which there can be no doubt, because I was part of the group of university students, at Tehran University and at other universities. From the beginning of the revolution, I constantly met with professors and students. I said, most convincingly and verifiably, that the ground for elitism was created with the Islamic Revolution."
Khamenei (Source: Khamenei.ir, October 19, 2022)
Enumerating the revolution's achievements of academic development, he included the establishment of many universities that he said employ over 100,000 professors – a number he claimed was 20 times greater than before the Islamic Revolution, although the country's population has merely doubled since then. He went on to note the accomplishments of "launching a wide range of research institutes and think tanks... this is the area of elitism... for instance, the research and accomplishments of the Royan Research Institute, not only in the stem cell field but [also] in the simulation [sic] of live animals – these are all things rarely [done] in the world...
"Advancements in biochemistry and gaining a seat in UNESCO in this field [were a triumph for Iran]. You know, when it comes to these international seats, one of the basic aims of our enemies is to interfere, infiltrate, and prevent Iran from being granted a seat and becoming a [UNESCO] member. Nevertheless, our elite won that victory."
Khamenei continued: "Another example is launching a satellite into space. Only [a few] countries have achieved this, and not every country has this. Many maintain satellites in space, [but] do not own them, and did not launch them. Only a few countries launch them. We are behind, of course, but we launched one, succeeded, and persevered, [because] our scientists were focused... [Another example is] making humanoid robots at Tehran University. This is important. Why are we ignoring it?
"[We also have] significant achievements in the nuclear industry. The issue of the nuclear industry is broad. Much can be said about this field, but you don't have the time for that right now. We have had significant achievements in the nuclear industry. We do not seek to make progress in the field of weapons, bombs, and such, but there is much blessing in this industry and we have successfully arrived at it. The first manufacturers in the nuclear industry belonged to Germany, in Hitler's time, from which it was taken by the Americans, and several other [countries] successfully [started nuclear industries] after stealing scientific information from the Americans. Then, that country [the U.S.] passed [this information] on to another country which holds similar views, which then passed it on [to other countries]. Those who currently possess [nuclear knowhow] obtained it in this way. But we did not. Obviously the preliminary, partial foundation [used by Iran] originated outside it. But this [information] was insignificant – [most of it] was achieved by the Iranian elite. Iran's elite accomplished this, with its might and its hope.
"As for [Iran's] building of advanced missiles and drones – which just a few years ago people were saying were photoshopped!... now they are calling the Iranian drones very dangerous! [They are asking:] Why are you [Iran] selling and giving them to others? Well, this is an achievement of the Iranian elite – it is an honor for the country...
"[The third element for creating an elite] is divine guidance and success. There is no doubt that if you seek to become elite and to be perceived as elite, you must be granted divine success and divine guidance. [The mere] possession and use of talent does not make anyone elite... I say that someone who is a genius in physics and creates a nuclear bomb is not elite in our view. Someone who uses chemical knowhow to create mustard gas and other chemical gases that will have a lifelong effect on people is not part of the elite. Someone who, through mathematical advancement and using, say, advanced engineering, can take control of the environment – even the very high-level environment and the environment of people's livelihoods – that is, when you talk in your own home but do not realize that a foreign ear is listening to you [and] hears not only mobile phones – no, there are other ways – This is not elite. Someone who uses this knowhow for evil is not elite.
"During the colonial period, Westerners – they began in Portugal and Spain and so on, and gradually arrived in other places [such as] Holland, Belgium, England, and France – Well, they managed to get weapons before everyone else. That is, [during] the Industrial Revolution, in the 17th and 18th centuries, one of the first things [this revolution] did was manufacture advanced weapons. Using these advanced weapons, they [the West] went and conquered other countries. India is such a large country, dozens of times larger geographically than the English isle. Not just India. They conquered the Indian subcontinent, India, today's Pakistan and Bangladesh; they conquered neighboring countries like Myanmar, destroying these countries' national industries...
"England was not wealthy, and neither were France or the European countries. They took the wealth of other countries. Yes, they could do such things with their weapons. True, they had creative minds. They experimented a lot. They took risks. These are the positive characteristics of the Europeans. But what did they use them for? To create a system of global control. A system of control. [This] is one of the greatest disasters the world [has known], and it is not ended yet, but with God's help it will be. This system of control means that the world is divided into rulers and the ruled. The few must rule the world through power. Other countries must obey them, in another guise. This is a system of control. This system of control was created by Europe's scientific progress. Well, the [term] elite, as a description of values, does not include these [countries].
"[Someone who is] elite, in terms of values, has talents, works hard, and has been granted divine guidance. Sometimes he himself does not know it is divine guidance, but it is divine guidance. The amazing moments in which those who made great discoveries are really God's work – this is divine guidance. Discovering gravity, discovering germs – this was divine guidance...
"But [we] expect [much] of the elite... The first expectation is [that they] use superior capabilities, granted by God Almighty, [to boost] the nation's national capabilities... This means using their capability to solve the country's problems, [because] we have many problems. Unfortunately, some of the elite do not do this. Some of the elite – that is, the talented – grow up here [in Iran], but when the time comes [for them to] bear fruit, they leave, and give their fruit to someone else. Sometimes that someone else is the enemy. Sometimes they become a tool in the hands of the global arrogance [the U.S.] for it to take over [other] nations; they become its pawn... They are ingrates. Of course they do not see what is good. Ultimately, I think anyone who turns their back [on their own country] like that cannot see their own people. The elite must remain with their own people. I am not saying that they should not rise, not study, not attend a leading university or [learning] center. No, they should go [do these things] – but this must be for their own people. They should work here for their country, not become a pawn of [the enemy].
"One day, [Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif] said that we [Iran] are nothing compared to the U.S. in terms of weaponry... I offered to arrange a tour for these gentlemen to see our military arsenal – for them to see our weapons industry and realize that they are mistaken...
"Now we are being told that there is a problematic thing called the nuclear industry in [our] country that they want to paralyze. They say this! They falsely claim that the world has moved away from the nuclear industry and nuclear energy. This is an unadulterated lie! Every day, they [themselves] continue to expand their nuclear bases – not military bases, [but] industrial bases. We must do the same. Had we not started [our nuclear activity] when we did – that is, years ago – we would have started it 10 years later, and only seen results 30 years from now. In other words, this is not something a country can ignore.
"Another case of neglect is neglect of the enemy. Our elites should not ignore the enemy. The enemy sometimes appears in the guise of science. I know. I say this based on information, not speculation. Many of these academic centers invite professors, sometimes students, members of the CIA and Mossad security operatives who have infiltrated the faculty, and the like, as scientific figures. They sit together and form relationships. God knows how far these relationships will go. At the very least, they ruin [the scientist's] views. If they cannot attract him, if they cannot trick him, at the very least they can ruin his views. This is how the enemy enters. They pretend to be polite, pretend to be clever, then it turns out that they are hunting us...
"In my opinion, nowadays, part of the enemy's soft war is to create hopelessness and sow despair among the elite... I agree that the country has its weak points. There is no denying that. These weaknesses are not few, but many. But the strengths should be viewed alongside the weaknesses. The enemy is trying to play up our weaknesses and hide our strengths. We must not help the enemy do this."
 The report of Khamenei's statements provides this footnote about then-Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, "who said at Tehran University on December 12, 2012: "The residents of the West do not fear our four tanks and missiles, but they fear the Iranian people. Do you think that America cannot paralyze our military system? Do you really think that America fears our military system? Is it really because of our military system that America does not advance [against Iran]?"
 Khamenei.ir, October 19, 2022.'