Iran threatens Israel if US acts "evil"

Iran threatened on Tuesday to attack Israel in response to any "evil" act by the United States and said it had enriched uranium to a level close to the maximum compatible with civilian use in power stations.

The defiant statements were issued shortly before world powers meet in Paris to discuss the next steps after Tehran rejected a U.N. call to halt uranium enrichment.

Senior officials from the U.N. Security Council's permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany were to discuss how to curb an Iranian program that Western nations say conceals a drive for atomic warheads.

Iran denies the charge and refuses to back down from what it calls its right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes.

Driving home that message, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, said his country had now succeeded in purifying uranium to 4.8 percent, at the top end of the 3 to 5 percent range for fuel used in nuclear power plants.

"Enrichment above 5 percent is not on Iran's agenda," Aghazadeh told the students' ISNA news agency.

Iran has previously said it had enriched to more than 4 percent, far below the 80 percent level needed for bomb-making.

It has used a test cascade of 164 centrifuges to enrich uranium so far and is building two similar cascades. It says it will start installing 3,000 centrifuges later this year -- enough to yield material for one bomb within a year.

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