Iran Threatens to Resume Uranium Enrichment

Iran broadened its threats Tuesday over a move to refer it to the U.N. Security Council, saying that unless the U.N. atomic watchdog agency backs down, it will resume uranium enrichment, block inspections of its nuclear facilities, and cut trade with countries that supported the resolution.

Despite the threats, Russia's minister of atomic energy and Vienna-based diplomats said Iran does not have ability to resume enrichment immediately.

In another move that suggests a toughening of Iran's position, the hard-line dominated parliament was considering a measure to force the government to bar short-notice intrusive U.N. inspections of its facilities if Tehran's right to enrich uranium is not respected by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said Iran was considering reducing its trade with those countries that voted for Saturday's resolution, particularly India.

Iran insists its nuclear program is designed for generating electricity, but the United States and others accuse it of seeking to develop atomic weapons.

The IAEA resolution put Iran on the verge of referral to the U.N. Security Council unless Tehran eases suspicions about its nuclear activities.

The resolution ordered Iran to suspend all enrichment activities, including uranium conversion, to abandon construction of a heavy water nuclear reactor and to grant access to certain military locations, individuals and documents. Iran has rejected the resolution, protesting it was politically motivated and without legal foundation.

Asefi said Tuesday that Iran was asking its European negotiating partners - Britain, France and Germany - and the IAEA for two things.

Effectively, this means that Iran would resume enrichment of uranium, which is currently suspended, and disregard the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, under which it grants IAEA inspectors the right to unfettered inspections of its nuclear facilities at short notice.

Iranian lawmakers on Tuesday were considering legislation that would force the government to bar intrusive inspections as long as Iran's right to possess the whole nuclear fuel cycle - from extracting uranium ore to enriching it - is not recognized, AP reports.

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