AN IRANIAN military official has threatened pre-emptive action against any country that threatens Iran's ''national interests'' as the rhetoric around its nuclear program becomes more bellicose.
Without mentioning Israel, the deputy head of Iran's armed forces, Mohammed Hejazi, said: ''We are no longer willing to wait for enemy action to be launched against us.
''Our strategy now is that if we feel our enemies want to endanger Iran's national interests, and want to decide to do that, we will act without waiting for their actions … We enjoy the ability to show them all types of confrontation in case of a foolish act by the Zionist regime.''
It was unclear with what authority General Hejazi spoke.
The apparent threat came as international nuclear inspectors declared their latest mission to Iran a failure after Tehran blocked access to a military site south-east of the capital.
The International Atomic Energy Agency team had been locked in two days of discussions on the possible military dimensions of the country's nuclear program, and had unsuccessfully requested access to the site at Parchin.
''It is disappointing that Iran did not accept our request to visit Parchin during the first or second meetings,'' IAEA director-general Yukiya Amano said. ''We engaged in a constructive spirit, but no agreement was reached.''
It is suspected that the facility at Parchin is used to test explosives related to nuclear weapons. IAEA inspectors unsuccessfully requested access to Parchin in January.
The team had also tried to reach agreement on a document that aimed to clarify ''unresolved issues in connection with Iran's nuclear program''. That too was not possible, he said.
Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, was quoted by Iranian news agency ISNA as saying the talks had been intensive and covered ''co-operation and mutual understanding between Iran and the IAEA''.
The inspectors' mission came as top Israeli and US military and security officials met to discuss Iran's nuclear program.
US officials have been in Israel this week warning against military action against Iran. The US officials were dealing with a hostile reaction in Israel after comments this week made by the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.
General Martin Dempsey told CNN that the US had told Israel that a strike against Iran would be ''destabilising'' and ''not prudent'', and that Iran had not yet decided whether to build a nuclear weapon.
He told the network that the US had, to date, been unable to persuade Israel not to attack Iran. Israel publicly rebuked the US over its stance.
''We made it clear to [US national security adviser Tom] Donilon that all those statements and briefings only served the Iranians,'' a senior Israeli official told Haaretz newspaper. ''The Iranians see there's controversy between the United States and Israel, and that the Americans object to a military act. That reduces the pressure on them.''
The White House said the US and Israel had a common goal: to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
The Obama administration believed there was sufficient time to resolve the dispute with Iran through negotiations and intensifying sanctions, the White House press secretary, Jay Carney, said.