Iran yesterday offered to negotiate on its nuclear drive but without a freeze on uranium enrichment, in its first comments since responding to an international package aimed at ending the standoff.
Its military chiefs, meanwhile, warned that the Islamic republic would close the Strait of Hormuz, which is vital for oil exports and use "blitzkrieg tactics" in the Gulf waterway if it came under attack.
"Iran will not go back on its rights on the nuclear issue," government spokesman Gholamhossein Elham said.
"The will of the Iranian people is firm and will continue to follow the principles defined by the supreme guide (Ayatollah Ali Khamenei)," the spokesman said at a weekly news conference.
"Iran insists on negotiations (with world powers) while respecting its rights and avoiding any loss of international rights," he said, referring to Tehran's refusal to give up on nuclear enrichment.
Iran on Friday delivered its response to a package drawn up by six world powers offering Iran technology and negotiations if it suspends uranium enrichment, which the West fears could be used to make atomic weapons.
Elham said his country was prepared to hold talks "especially with the 5+1 Group" of the UN Security Council members plus Germany "on the common points in the Iranian package and the offer of the world powers.”
Iran's top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili has said his country submitted a "constructive and creative" response with "a focus on common ground," but he did not elaborate on the contents.
Iran has also put forward its own more all-embracing offer aimed at solving world problems, including the nuclear issue, and has said there is common ground between the two packages.
There has been considerable speculation in recent days that Tehran was softening its tone on the nuclear standoff, although the international community has made negotiations conditional on enrichment suspension.
Diplomatic sources said EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana has not ruled out pre-negotiations during which world powers would refrain from new sanctions provided Iran did not start operating any more centrifuges to enrich uranium.