President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday vowed Iran will step up its atomic programme despite UN sanctions, predicting Tehran would soon "push the button" to produce nuclear fuel for industrial uses.
"Iran has the fuel cycle and very soon we will push the button on nuclear fuel production for industrial uses," said Ahmadinejad in a speech in Ghotvand, in western Khuzestan province, according to the IRNA news agency.
"The Iranian people have taken their decision and will in no way pay attention to empty cries of the materialists and the bullying of the decadent powers."
Iran has already announced it has enriched uranium to levels of around five per cent. Producing nuclear fuel that could theoretically be used in a power station would be another important step in mastering the nuclear fuel cycle.
Ahmadinejad's latest comments come in defiance of a UN Security Council resolution at the end of last year which imposed sanctions against Tehran for its failure to suspend uranium enrichment.
Western powers want Iran to suspend enrichment, a process that they fear could be used to make nuclear weapons. Iran insists its atomic programme is entirely peaceful and it has every right to the full nuclear fuel cycle.
Iranian officials have already predicted Iran would be able to make a major announcement on its nuclear programme during the 28th anniversary celebrations of the Islamic revolution in February.
"The Iranian people will not retreat one iota from their rights and the revolutionary celebration will be a celebration that proves Iran's nuclear rights," Ahmadinejad said.