THE HAGUE, Netherlands – Iran (search) threatened on Thursday to resume its uranium enrichment program if talks with European nations this week fail.
Speaking after a meeting with his Dutch counterpart, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said Friday's talks were critical.
"If talks with European Union are not successful tomorrow, negotiations will collapse and we will have no choice but to restart the uranium enrichment program," Kharrazi said Thursday.
France, Britain and Germany have been negotiating with Iran, seeking guarantees that it won't use its nuclear program to make weapons, as Washington suspects. Tehran insists the program — kept secret for two decades — is only for peaceful energy purposes.
Iran agreed in November to freeze uranium enrichment (search), but insists the move is temporary.
The European countries have been trying to get Iran to make the freeze permanent.
But last week, a spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry said the country plans to resume uranium enrichment regardless of what comes out of the negotiations. Hamid Reza Asefi said then the freeze was not "a matter of a year, but months."
Karrazi, who spoke at a news conference after meeting with Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot, said his country's nuclear program is peaceful.
Iran has argued that the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (search), of which it is part, allows it to pursue a peaceful nuclear program, including enriching uranium. Uranium enriched to low levels can be used as fuel in nuclear reactors to generate electricity, but further enrichment makes it suitable for a nuclear bomb.