TEHRAN -- Iran will not back down "even one step" over its nuclear work, a senior adviser to the country's top authority said in remarks published on Thursday, making clear Tehran's continued defiance in a row with the West.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Wednesday Group of Eight major powers would give Iran until September to accept negotiations over its nuclear ambitions or else face tougher sanctions.
Ali Akbar Velayati, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's top adviser on international affairs, said Western countries did not want the Islamic state to have peaceful nuclear activities, state broadcaster IRIB said on its website.
IRIB said Velayati was speaking on Wednesday evening, but the report did not make clear whether he was commenting on Sarkozy's statement at the G8 summit in Italy.
Iran has repeatedly ruled out halting sensitive nuclear work which it says is for peaceful power generation purposes but which the West suspects is for making nuclear bombs.
"Britain and France would want a weakened Iran at the negotiating table and are after the complete stoppage of Iran's nuclear activity," Velayati said.
But, he said "the Islamic Republic of Iran will be present at the scene even more strongly than yesterday and will not retreat even one step from its peaceful nuclear activity."
Sarkozy, upping the stakes in the dispute with Tehran, said the powers would review the situation at a G20 meeting of developed and developing countries in Pittsburgh on September 24-25.
The United States and Canada said the world's main industrialized nations were growing increasingly impatient.
However, Sarkozy made clear Russia was still dragging its feet over the issue and had pushed for more time before considering a fresh round of sanctions.
In a separate statement, the G8 said it was committed to finding a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear program.
© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved