SARI, Iran (AP) _ Iran's president warned Washington's European allies on Tuesday that Iran would reconsider its relations with them if they insist on punishing Tehran for its nuclear program, saying that would amount to an act of ``hostility.''
His comments came ahead of a meeting in Paris of diplomats from the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia, and Germany to discuss imposing penalties on Iran for refusing to stop uranium enrichment.
``I'm telling you in plain language that as of now on, if you try, whether in your propaganda or at international organizations, to take steps against the rights of the Iranian nation, the Iranian nation will consider it an act of hostility,'' President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a speech before thousands in northern Iran.
``And if you insist on pursuing this path,'' he continued, Iran ``will reconsider its relations with you.''
It was the first time that Ahmadinejad had threatened to downgrade relations with European nations, which are responsible of a large portion of Iran's international trade. It was not clear what steps Ahmadinejad had in mind. The president does not have the final word in Iran _ that lies with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. When Ahmadinejad on one occasion was quoted as threatening to retaliate against the West by restricting oil sales, he was quickly countermanded.
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy said Monday that the six nations were nearing an agreement on a Security Council resolution.
Iran says it is entitled as a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. The U.S. and its allies suspect it is developing a weapons program in secret. The U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has criticized Iran for concealing significant aspects of its nuclear work and says it has failed to answer all questions about its program.
Ahmadinejad, who was visiting Mazandaran province on the Caspian Sea, reiterated there would be no slowing of Iran's nuclear program.
``Thanks to the grace of God and (the Iranian people's) resistance, we are on the final stage of the path to the nuclear peak. Not more than one step is left to be taken. By the end of the year, we will organize a celebration across the country to mark the stabilization of our nuclear rights,'' he said, referring to the Iranian calendar year that ends March 20.
By ``stabilization,'' Ahmadinejad appeared to mean that Iran has managed to enrich uranium on an industrial scale, a requirement for making sufficient fuel to power Iran's Russian-built reactor at Bushehr, which is due to go on line next year.