LONDON- Iran will not give up uranium enrichment and the West must get used to an Iran that is a master of enrichment, Tehran's envoy to the U.N. nuclear watchdog was quoted on Wednesday as saying.

Iran was always ready to talk in a civilised manner, Ali Asghar Soltanieh said in an interview with New Statesman, a British current affairs magazine.

But the West just has to cope with a strong Iran, a country with thousands of years of civilisation, that is now the master of enrichment. I know it is hard for them to digest, but it is the reality, he said.

Iran will never give up enrichment -- at any price. Even the threat of military attack will not stop us, the Iranian ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency said.

New Statesman said the interview was conducted in Vienna one recent Sunday but did not give the date.

Iran says its nuclear programme is for electricity generation. Tehran announced this month it had begun work to enrich uranium to a higher grade for a reactor making isotopes for cancer patients, further raising Western concerns that it might build a nuclear bomb.

Western powers had offered Iran a fuel swap under which it would have sent much of its low-enriched uranium abroad in return for fuel rods for the medical reactor.

The United States is leading a push for the U.N. Security Council to impose a fourth round of sanctions on Iran over its nuclear work.

Soltanieh said the language of threats reflected a colonialist mentality.

By threatening Iran with the Security Council, with sanctions, with military action, you are just making life more difficult for yourself -- it doesn't work, he said.

Soltanieh said U.S. President Barack Obama had come to power with a slogan for change.

Whether he can translate those words into action, we will have to see. So far, Obama has been unable to deliver, and on occasion has resorted to using the same language of threats as (former President) George W. Bush. This is very disappointing, he said.

Obama came to office vowing to break with Bush's policy of seeking to isolate Iran. But he has taken a tougher stance since the disputed elections there last June and the passing of a deadline for Tehran to accept the fuel swap deal.

(Reporting by Adrian Croft; Editing by Janet Lawrence)