TEHRAN - Iran rejected on Sunday a resolution from the U.N. nuclear watchdog that it should freeze uranium enrichment, and threatened to end snap checks of atomic facilities if its case were sent to the U.N. Security Council.
It said if the Council went as far as punishing Tehran with sanctions, Iran could follow North Korea and pull out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty altogether.
Enriched uranium can be used to make atomic weapons. Washington says that is Iran's aim but Tehran says its nuclear program is solely dedicated to generating electricity.
The U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) unanimously adopted a resolution on Saturday calling on Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment-related activities.
"Iran will not accept any obligation regarding the suspension of uranium enrichment," chief nuclear negotiator Hassan Rohani told a news conference.
"No international body can force Iran to do so."
Rohani predicted a rough ride to the next IAEA board of governors meeting on November 25.
"This is a war, we may win or we may lose," said the mid-ranking cleric who sits as secretary-general of Iran's Supreme National Security Council.
He said Iran would stop allowing U.N. inspectors to make short-notice visits to its atomic facilities if the Islamic Republic's dossier were sent to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.
"If they want to send Iran to the Security Council, it is not wise, and we will stop implementing the Additional Protocol," he said.
The Additional Protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) allows snap nuclear checks. Iran is implementing its terms although parliament has not ratified it.
FOLLOWING NORTH KOREA
Rohani also warned Iran could pull out of the NPT if the Islamic Republic falls foul of the Security Council.
"If they impose economic sanctions, parliament may ask government to pull out of the NPT," he continued.
Iran agreed to suspend uranium enrichment-related activities last year after a visit to Tehran by foreign ministers from France, Britain and Germany, the so-called EU big three.
But the suspension lapsed. Iran said in July it had restarted building centrifuges and had recommenced work at a plant that produces uranium hexafluoride, the gas pumped into centrifuges.
Centrifuges enrich uranium by spinning it at supersonic speeds.
If enriched to a low level, uranium can be used to fuel nuclear power stations such as the one Iran is building at Bushehr on its south coast. If further enriched, it can be deployed in warheads.
Although it restarted these enrichment-related activities, Iran says it has not restarted enrichment itself.
But the Islamic Republic said its suspension agreement was made to the EU foreign ministers on a goodwill basis and insists it is permitted to get the process running at any stage.