Iran's supreme leader issued a tough line on the country's nuclear program after days of mixed signals from Tehran about a possible compromise, saying that Tehran's nuclear fuel program is "irreversible" and any retreat would endanger the country's independence.
The confrontational tone from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday, who has the final say on all state matters, set Iran on a collision course with the West as the five permanent members of the UN Security Council debated how to deal with Iran's nuclear activities.
After meeting Tuesday at the United Nations, the Big Powers remained divided over how strong to make a Security Council statement on Iran's nuclear program. A British-French draft demands that Iran halt all uranium enrichment, which can be used to make nuclear arms, and calls for a report within weeks on Iran's progress toward answering questions about its nuclear program.
Russia and China say the draft does not leave enough room for diplomacy and focuses too much on possible Security Council action.