President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Thursday that threats of more sanctions would not deter Iran from pursuing its peaceful nuclear plans, which the West says are aimed at producing atomic bombs.
"Whatever they do, Iran will continue its activities. Sanctions are not important," Ahmadinejad told a news conference. "The era of such threats has ended."
The United States, Britain and France this week vowed to seek harsher sanctions on Tehran over its defiance of U.N. demands for full disclosure and a suspension of uranium enrichment, a process that has both civilian and military uses.
Their calls came after the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report on Monday that Iranian stonewalling had brought to a standstill its investigation into whether Iran had covertly researched ways to make an atom bomb.
But Ahmadinejad told Iran's state Press TV in an interview that the IAEA report had confirmed the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program and that Tehran had cooperated with the Vienna-based U.N. agency with "full transparency."
He also said the IAEA had no mandate to consider Western intelligence, which alleges that Iran had linked projects to process uranium, test high explosives and modify a missile cone in a way suitable for a nuclear warhead.
Iran has repeatedly denied the allegations but the IAEA says Tehran must substantiate its position by granting access to sites, documents and relevant officials for interviews.
The Islamic Republic says its nuclear work is for generating electricity and rejects Western accusations it is seeking to build weapons.
Ahmadinejad added: "The United States government has made a claim that is beyond and outside of the purview and the provisions of the IAEA and the IAEA does not have a mandate really to examine such claims."
Iran has withstood three rounds of limited U.N. sanctions imposed so far and may count on Russia, at odds with Western powers over Georgia, to hold up harsh action by the U.N. Security Council, analysts say.
"Those who say we want to put sanctions do so because of their weakness ... They are putting sanctions on themselves," Ahmadinejad told the news conference.
"We will never surrender to excessive demands," he said.
Speaking to reporters Thursday, Ahmadinejad also lashed out again at Israel, saying that the Jewish state won't survive in any form.
He repeated previous anti-Israel comments, calling the Holocaust by Nazi Germany a "fake" and saying Israel is perpetrating a holocaust on the Palestinian people.