Iran's new parliament speaker Ali Larijani on Wednesday warned that the country could review its cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog, after the body expressed grave concern about Tehran's contested atomic drive.
Addressing parliament just minutes after his election, the powerful conservative expressed regret over the latest report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the Iranian nuclear drive.
"Unfortunately, in certain parts it spoke in an ambiguous way. This was used by the media, as you have seen, in the last days. This attitude of the agency is regrettable," he said in the speech broadcast live on state radio.
"Parliament will not allow that such deceptions are made and if they continue along this path, the new parliament will intervene in the case and set a new line for cooperation with the IAEA."
In its report, the IAEA expressed "serious concern" that Iran was still hiding information about alleged studies into making nuclear warheads and defying UN demands to suspend uranium enrichment.
"If they want a more sincere cooperation with Iran they need to have more balanced reports and not look to create a media frenzy," added Larijani, whose comments drew cries of "God is Greatest" and "Death to America" from the lawmakers.
Observers said the report marked a tougher line from the IAEA, which has spent four years investigating the Iranian nuclear drive but has never drawn a conclusion over its nature.
The United States and its European allies fear Iran wants to use the sensitive process of uranium enrichment to make an atomic weapon. Tehran insists its drive is entirely peaceful.
Larijani did not say how Iran could change its cooperation but any move from Tehran to limit IAEA talks or inspections would spark an intensification of tensions in the standoff.
In recent weeks, Iran has held talks with the IAEA to examine the allegations that Tehran has studied how to design nuclear weapons. The claims stem from intelligence provided to the IAEA by some member states.
They were first presented at a closed-door briefing to diplomats at IAEA headquarters in Vienna on February 25 by its deputy director general Olli Heinonen.
Washington and its allies responded immediately to the new IAEA report, saying it underlined international concerns about the aims of the Iranian nuclear programme.
The White House warned that Iran must not be allowed to use negotiations over its nuclear program to stall, while pursuing what the West fears is an atomic weapons quest.
"We cannot allow the Iranian regime to use negotiations to stall for time, hedge its bets and keep open an indigenous route to a nuclear weapon," national security adviser Stephen Hadley said.
"If there is one thing I hope we can all agree on, it is that a nuclear-armed Iran would be disastrous for the peace of the Middle East and the world," he said in prepared remarks released by the White House.
Hadley also warned that Washington would hold "fully accountable" any country, company, extremist group, or individual who helps US foes acquire weapons of mass destruction.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Iran "needs to provide answers immediately, and come clean about its past activities."
In Berlin, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the report "leaves open a number of questions that we will have to examine very quickly."
Larijani's warning carries weight as its comes from one of the key Iranian figures in the nuclear standoff.
He served as top nuclear negotiator between 2005-2007, holding several rounds of talks with the European Union, before resigning due to differences with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Even before his election to the powerful post of speaker, he retained an influence on nuclear policy as the representative on Iran's supreme national security council of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.