TEHRAN – Iran's top leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned on Wednesday that the country will pursue nuclear activities outside international regulations if the U.N. Security Council insists it stop uranium enrichment.
"Until today, what we have done has been in accordance with international regulations," Khamenei said. "But if they take illegal actions, we too can take illegal actions and will do so."
Khamenei did not elaborate what "illegal actions" could be pursued by Tehran as it faces new sanctions by the U.N. body over its refusal to halt enrichment which the West fears is used for arms making.
Iran's top leader also issued a stark warning to the United States, saying Iran will "use all its capacities to strike" its enemies if his country is attacked.
"If they want to treat us with threats and enforcement of coercion and violence, undoubtedly they must know that the Iranian nation and authorities will use all their capacities to strike enemies that attack," Khamenei told the nation in an address marking the first day of Nowruz, or the Persian New Year.
The top five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council have drawn up new sanctions meant to punish Iran for rejecting U.N. demands it halt the controversial enrichment — a key process that can produce fuel for a reactor or the material for a nuclear warhead.
U.S. and some of its allies accuse Iran of using its nuclear program as a cover to build nuclear weapons. Tehran has denies the charges, saying its nuclear program is merely geared toward generating electricity, not bomb.
Iranian is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty — the agreement under which the U.N. inspections are held.