Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday that as long as Israel was in possession of atomic weapons, Iran would not halt its nuclear program.

"When an illegal regime possesses nuclear weapons, the other countries' rights for peaceful nuclear energy can not be denied," the semi-official Iranian news agency ISNR quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.

Israel has never confirmed or denied foreign reports that it has a nuclear arsenal. Ahmadinejad's remarks were the first since a United Nations-backed draft was put forth aimed at easing tensions with the West over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

He was speaking during a meeting in Tehran the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom he thanked for Turkey's stance toward Israel.

"Zionist regime is a threat to all nations and if it finds any opportunity, it wants to include all regional nations in its territory," he was quoted as telling Erdogan.

The Turkish leader, for his part, called for further bilateral cooperation.

He was quoted as telling Ahmadinejad that, "Those who claim they are after nuclear disarmament in the world should start the measure in their own country." Relations between Ankara and Jerusalem have recently been strained, ever since after Turkey banned Israel from participating in a NATO air force drill earlier in the month.

The Iranian president's comments came as UN inspectors visited a formerly secret uranium enrichment site in Iran.

Meanwhile, Iran's al Alam state television reported cited an unnamed official as saying that Iran would present its response to the proposed agreement within 48 hours.

It did not give details on what kind of changes Tehran would seek to the draft agreement hammered out by UN nuclear agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei in consultations with Iran, Russia, France and the United States in Vienna last week.

The draft pact calls for Iran to transfer some 80 percent of its known 1.5 tonnes of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia for further enrichment by the end of this year, then to France for conversion into fuel plates.

These would be returned to Tehran to fuel a research reactor that produces radio-isotopes for cancer treatment.