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Iran issues warning on uranium enrichment

Ali Larijani, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, said his country will pursue its own path.


International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

TEHRAN, Iran (CNN) -- Iran will resume large-scale nuclear enrichment if the International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors refers the Islamic Republic to the U.N. Security Council, the country's chief nuclear negotiator said Sunday.

Ali Larijani also warned that Iran could use its oil production "as a weapon" if the nuclear imbroglio worsens.

Meanwhile, John Bolton, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, told an American-Israeli organization Sunday that the United States would use "all tools at our disposal" to address the threat an Iranian nuclear program might pose.

"We must not ignore Tehran's refusal to address the concerns of the international community," Bolton said, speaking at the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington.

"The longer we wait to confront the threat Iran poses, the harder it will become to resolve."

The IAEA board of governors meets Monday, and it is expected to hand the matter over to the Security Council.

"Referral to the Security Council will not have any benefit for us or anyone else," said Larijani.

"And this will actually cause a lot of problems for others. Referral to Security Council would definitely be a setback to the discussion and the talks. To have a nuclear program, this is our God-given right, and no country will give up such a right. We have left all the doors open for discussion."

"We will definitely resume our enrichment and if Iran is referred to the Security Council."

Iran has already resumed enrichment on a very small scale at its Natanz research facility, testing an cascading array of 20 centrifuges, according to the IAEA. Thousands of centrifuges are required to produce enough enriched uranium to be useful.

Iran insists it wants to use its nuclear program to augment a burgeoning domestic demand for electricity, freeing up its vast oil reserves -- Iran is estimated to have the fourth largest in the world -- for export.

But the West -- particularly the United States -- believes Iran intends to build nuclear weapons, an allegation Iran denies. Three years of negotiations with Britain, France and Germany -- known as the EU-3 -- failed to produce an agreement.

The last such negotiations fell apart Friday, although German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the talks were held in a "very constructive atmosphere" and he remained hopeful that Tehran "will take the necessary steps for confidence-building measures in order to continue the dialogue which we all very much want."

Larijani had requested that session after meeting in Moscow with officials about a Russian proposal to enrich uranium for Tehran inside Russia, provided Iran cease enrichment activities inside its own borders. But, he said Sunday that "the doors to discussion are open."

"We would like to continue our dialogue," he said.

He warned, however, that adverse action against Iran by the Security Council could force Iran to respond in kind.

"We have no interest to use oil as a sort of weapon to fight other countries," he said. "But naturally, this may become a weapon of resistance from our country if the situation gets worse."

"To threaten Iran ... it just causes Iran to cut back on its cooperation," he said.

Larijani also blamed the United States for fanning the flames the problem.

"The American Government needs to create some kind of crisis because, now, in regard to Iraq, they have made a huge mess, and now they have to redirect the attention of the world to something else."

The United States has no direct ties with Iran.

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