Iran said yesterday that a US threat to form an independent coalition to impose sanctions if the UN Security Council failed to act over Tehran's nuclear program was an insult to the council's work.
The Los Angeles Times reported on Saturday that the US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton had indicated Washington was prepared to act independently with allies to freeze Iranian assets and restrict trade if the council did not.
The US has previously called for a swift response if Iran does not heed the council's Thursday deadline to halt uranium enrichment, a process that can make fuel for reactors or material for warheads.
"These remarks [by Bolton] are an obvious insult to the Security Council," Iranian government Gholamhossein Elham told a weekly news conference.
"These remarks are just bullying and baseless remarks and show that they [the US] are not competent to be a member of the Security Council," he said.
The LA Times said Washington planned to introduce a resolution imposing penalties soon after Thursday's deadline if Iran's position did not change.
Bolton said Washington was working on a parallel diplomatic track outside the UN if Russia and China did not accept the resolution, the LA Times reported.
Meanwhile, French President Jacques Chirac urged Iran to reassure the world about its intentions.
"Once again, I urge Tehran to send the necessary signals to create the conditions for trust. There is always room for dialogue," Chirac said in a speech yesterday.
Iran has said it is ready for immediate talks but has refused to suspend enrichment before negotiations start, which was proposed in an incentives offer made by the US, China, Russia, France, Britain and Germany.
In other developments, Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni yesterday urged the world community to stop the "threat" posed by Iran, which she accused of trying to "buy time" to build a nuclear weapon.
"The world must understand that it must act so that uranium enrichment is stopped in Iran. This is crucial for world peace," she said after talks in Berlin with her German counterpart.
"The international community cannot accept the threat" posed by Iran's response to an international incentives package to stop sensitive nuclear work, she said.