The defiant statements were issued shortly before world powers met in Paris to discuss the next steps after Tehran rejected a United Nations call to halt uranium enrichment.
Senior officials from the UN Security Council’s permanent members – Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States – plus Germany discussed how to curb an Iranian program that western nations say conceals a drive for atomic warheads.
According to a French official who spoke after the meeting all the envoys agree Iran’s nuclear program “is not compatible with the demands of the international community”.
Senior political directors “all showed their concern over the development of this program”, said French foreign ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei.
He added that they agreed to pursue discussions on the issue at the foreign minister level in New York on Monday with the aim of reaching a “firm” decision.
Iran’s nuclear activities go against International Atomic Energy Agency demands, as underlined in an IAEA report to the UN Security Council last Friday, Mr Mattei said.
Enrichment ‘not on agenda’
Iran denies the charge or concealing weapons development and refuses to back down from what it calls its right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.
Driving home that message, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, said his country had now succeeded in purifying uranium to 4.8 per cent, at the top end of the three to five per cent range for fuel used in nuclear power plants.
“Enrichment above five per cent is not on Iran’s agenda,” Mr Aghazadeh told the students’ ISNA news agency.
Iran has previously said it had enriched to more than four per cent, far below the 80 per cent level needed for bomb-making.
It has used a test cascade of 164 centrifuges to enrich uranium so far and is building two similar cascades. It says it will start installing 3,000 centrifuges later this year, enough to yield material for one bomb within a year.
The United States and Israel have vowed to deny Iran nuclear weapons. Washington has not excluded war if diplomacy fails, while Tehran has sworn to retaliate if attacked.
“We have announced that wherever America does something evil, the first place that we target will be Israel,” ISNA quoted a senior Revolutionary Guards commander, Rear Admiral Mohammad-Ebrahim Dehqani.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for the Jewish state to be “wiped off the map”.
Iran’s deputy oil minister said there was “some possibility” of a US attack on his country over its nuclear program.
“I am worried. Everybody is worried,” Mohammad Hadi Nejad-Hosseinian said in New Delhi after talks on a proposed A$9 billion pipeline from Iran to India via Pakistan.