TEHRAN, Iran – Iran said Sunday that it has no plans to resume uranium enrichment (search) soon but warned that it might change its mind if the International Atomic Energy Agency (search) asks the U.N. Security Council to consider sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
The 35-nation board of the U.N. watchdog agency meets Monday in Vienna, Austria, to begin discussing Iran's nuclear program.
The European Union and United States insist Iran halt a uranium conversion process restarted last month or face an effort to have U.N. punitive sanctions imposed. Conversion is a precursor step to uranium enrichment, which produces material that can be used as fuel for nuclear reactors to generate electricity but also as the core of nuclear weapons.
"Enrichment is not on the agenda for the time being, but if the IAEA meeting on Monday leads to radical results, we will make our decision to correspond to that," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said.
"In a radical atmosphere, there is the possibility of any decision" by Iran's leaders, he added, without elaborating.
The United States accuses Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Iran says its program is intended only to produce electricity and insists it won't accept any limits on its right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (search) to have a peaceful atomic energy program.
In a speech Saturday to the U.N. General Assembly, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad proclaimed his country's "inalienable right" to produce nuclear energy and rejected a European Union offer of economic incentives if Iran halts its uranium enrichment program.
He denied Iran had any intention of producing nuclear weapons, offering foreign countries and companies a role in his country's nuclear energy production.
France's foreign minister, Philippe Douste-Blazy, welcomed Ahmadinejad's rejection of atomic weapons. But he said Iran should give up producing its own nuclear fuel, saying participation by foreign companies would not allay concerns about Tehran's intentions.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw criticized Ahmadinejad's speech as "disappointing and unhelpful."
Asefi complained about the cool response.
"Participation of foreign companies in enrichment activity of Iran is an objective guarantee. Reactions were not positive to it," Asefi said at his weekly news conference. "Such reactions are not helpful."
In Vienna, diplomats said Iran might offer new concessions when the IAEA meets in an effort to bolster opposition on the board to referring the Iranian program to the Security Council.
The diplomats, who are accredited to the IAEA and are familiar with the Iran situation, told The Associated Press that Tehran might announce that it will let U.N. experts meet with high-ranking military officials and visit military sites after months of denying such permission.
The board already is closely split on the Iran issue, and new concessions could leave the Europeans and the Americans in the minority, said the diplomats, who agreed to discuss the matter only if not quoted by name because of the sensitivity of the issue.