An Iranian flag is seen in front of a gas flare on an oil production platform in the Soroush oil fields in Iran. Picture: Reuters

Tehran - A substantial portion of the world doesn't like Iran, according to Ayatollah Mohammad-Taqi Mesbah-Yazdi.

"I don't want to paint a pessimistic picture, but the majority of the world doesn't like us and just wishes us the very worst," he said Wednesday at the University of Tehran.

It's possible to count Iran's friends with the fingers on one hand, the news agency ISNA reported him as saying.

Therefore, Iranians should stick together, like at the start of the Iranian Revolution of 1979, said Mesbah-Yazdi, who is close to Iran's hardliner faction.

Iranian President Hassan Rowhani has said several times that fear of Iran in the world has disappeared since he became president in 2013 and the country began to open with his government's reformist policies.

Iranian hardliners disagree, saying the West will never accept the religious base of the Iranian establishment.

"They [the West] may talk to us with soft words, but our experience shows they still look at us like enemies," Mesbah-Yazdi said.

In May, the US withdrew from the Iranian nuclear agreement - seen as a chance for Iran to normalize relations with the West - and began reimposing sanctions on the country at the start of August. Further sanctions on the country's finance and energy sectors are set to follow on November 4.

The nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was agreed in 2015 in Vienna by Iran and six world powers and was designed to prevent Tehran from building a nuclear bomb in return for the lifting of economic sanctions.