TEHRAN, Iran – Iran (search) on Tuesday threatened to resume uranium enrichment and block U.N. inspections of its nuclear facilities unless the U.N. atomic watchdog agency stepped back from its resolution to refer Tehran to the Security Council (search) for possible sanctions.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi (search) said Iran also would consider reducing trade with those countries that voted for Saturday's resolution, particularly India.
"We were very surprised by India," he said. The country is interested in importing Iranian natural gas through a pipeline that will pass through Pakistan.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (search) resolution put Iran on the verge of referral to the U.N. Security Council unless Tehran eases suspicions about its nuclear activities. The resolution told Iran to suspend all enrichment activities, including uranium conversion, to abandon construction of a heavy water nuclear reactor, and to grant access to certain locations and documents.
Iran has rejected the resolution, saying it was politically motivated and without legal foundation.
Asefi said Iran was asking its European negotiating partners — Britain, France and Germany — and the IAEA for two things:
"First, they should not insist (on the terms of the resolution). Second, they should correct it. If the other parties' reaction is not along these lines, the Islamic Republic of Iran will take these measures," Asefi said.
He said Iran would cease to abide by the "voluntary measures" that it has been implementing as an expression of good will.
"If the IAEA and European countries don't make up for their error, we will cancel all voluntary measures we have taken," he said.
Effectively, this means that Iran would resume enrichment of uranium, which is currently suspended, and disregard the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (search) under which it grants IAEA inspectors the right to unfettered inspections of its nuclear facilities.
Asefi warned that referral to the U.N. Security Council could have unforeseen consequences. The resolution set no date for referral, but said it would be considered later.
"It's always easy to create a crisis, but not easy to control it," Asefi said. "We are giving the IAEA and the Europeans a very serious warning about this."
Iran would consider punishing those countries that voted for the resolution by cutting trade, Asefi said.
"We will regulate our relations with other countries based on mutual interest," he said. "There are different levers in different areas to reduce economic ties."
Asefi said Iran's offer to give foreign countries and companies a role in its nuclear program was a "sincere measure of transparency."
Europeans have disregarded the offer, which was made by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (search) at this month's U.N. summit in New York.
"What should we do to prove our sincerity?" Asefi asked rhetorically. "We are allowing them to lay their beds inside our facilities."
Asefi reiterated that Iran would never abandon its uranium enrichment program, a right to which it is entitled as a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.