It was the first official Iranian response to the document which stated that Tehran had resumed the enrichment of uranium despite an August 31 deadline set by the UN security council it to stop or face sanctions.
 
At a rally in the northwestern city of Makou, Ahmadinejad said: "The enemies should know Iranians are standing firm on obtaining their rights and will not give up one iota of their nuclear rights.

"Using different pretexts, the Iranian nation's enemies oppose our progress, to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

"They should know our country is united."

Consequences

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report also said the agency could not verify that Iran was not seeking to build nuclear weapons "because of lack of co-operation from Tehran".

George Bush, the US president, has warned Iran of "consequences" and said it was time for Iran to make a choice.

"We will continue to work closely with our allies to find a diplomatic solution, but there must be consequences for Iran's defiance and we must not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon," he said.

However, Mohammad Saeedi, deputy head of Iran's atomic energy agency, said there was no legal reason for Iran to be referred to the security council and that the report showed Iran's co-operation.

"It shows that the propaganda of the United States on the Iranian nuclear programme is completely without foundation and the result of the hallucinations of US officials," he said.

Javier Solana, the EU foreign policy chief, is to meet European foreign ministers on Friday in Finland to try to decide on a response to Iran's refusal to suspend nuclear activities.

Dead end

UN sources told AP news agency there would be a meeting between representatives of Britain, France and Germany and Ali Larijani, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, in September before any deliberations on possible UN security council sanctions would take place.

However, Russia's foreign minister cast doubt on whether the council could reach a quick consensus on punitive measures against Iran when he called sanctions a "dead end" on Friday.

Sergei Lavrov said: "We take into account the experience of the past and we cannot ally ourselves with ultimatums, which all lead to a dead end.

"Yes, there are countries whose policies raise doubts, and cause discontent, but we all live in the same world and we need to ... draw them into dialogue, and not isolation and sanctions."

Lavrov, who made the comments in a speech at Moscow's State Institute for Foreign Affairs, did not mention Iran specifically but it was clear he had the dispute in mind.

Ahmadinejad had said on Thursday that Iran "will not yield to pressure and will not accept any violation of its rights" regarding nuclear power.

"Arrogant powers want to stop our nation's progress... I am telling them that they are wrong," Ahmadinejad said.

Iran says its nuclear programme is solely for peaceful purposes to generate energy, however some governments have accused it of trying to develop nuclear weapons.