(Reuters) – Iran has entered the world’s “nuclear club” and major powers should accept it, an influential cleric told worshippers on Friday, underlining Tehran’s defiance in a dispute with the West over its atomic activities.
Ahmad Khatami, a conservative hard-liner in the clerical establishment, also warned the major powers that Iran could “endanger your entire world” in any future confrontation.
The United States is lobbying U.N. Security Council members to back a fourth round of sanctions on Iran, to press it into curbing sensitive nuclear work the West suspects is aimed at making bombs.
Iran, the world’s fifth-largest crude exporter, says its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity and has refused to bow to international pressure to halt it.
“In regard to the nuclear issue, you should regard the nuclearization of Iran as a bygone fact,” said Khatami, who is a member of a powerful clerical body, the Assembly of Experts.
“By God’s grace, Iran has entered the world countries’ nuclear club,” said in a sermon broadcast live on state radio.
The United States and Israel, Iran’s arch foes, have not ruled out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve the row.
Iran, a predominantly Shi’ite Muslim state, has said it would respond to any attack by targeting U.S. interests in the region and Israel, as well as closing the Strait of Hormuz, a waterway crucial for global oil supplies.