The Islamic republic’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said Iran was not intending to use oil as a weapon in the dispute or quit the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), but nevertheless warned this could change if the crisis worsened.
Monday’s meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency will discuss whether Iran should be referred to the UN Security Council where sanctions might be imposed.
“Research and development is in our national interest and Iran will not go back on that,” said Mr Larijani.
“Going to the Security Council will certainly not make Iran go back on research and development,” he said.
Tehran would retaliate
Mr Larijani said that Tehran would instead retaliate to such a move by pressing ahead with full-scale uranium enrichment work.
There is international concern about Iran’s bid to master uranium enrichment, even via small-scale research.
The Tehran administration said it only wants to make reactor fuel, but the process can be extended to the fissile core of a nuclear weapon and the West is determined to prevent Iran acquiring this know-how.
The IAEA’s 35-nation board is to begin meeting in Vienna on Monday.
Mr Larijani said Iran was only prepared to hold off on large-scale enrichment.
However the US and European powers have already said that such a concession does not go far enough.
They want to see Iran halt all work related to enrichment and show greater cooperation with the IAEA’s now three-year-old investigation.
With Security Council action likely, Western powers have been considering what pressure, including possible sanctions, could be used against Iran if it refuses to return to a moratorium on sensitive nuclear work.
Diagrams from an Iranian computer believed to depict an atomic bomb will be key to US arguments at the UN Security Council to take action on Iran’s nuclear program, according to Time magazine.
The computer was purportedly stolen from an Iranian nuclear engineer and obtained by the CIA in 2004.
Time magazine cited a Western diplomat who said the computer’s diagrams show a hollow metallic sphere about 60 centimetres in diameter and weighing about 200 kilograms.
One diagram shows an outer shell festooned with explosive charges, which would explode toward the core similar to Fat Man, the atomic bomb the United States dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki in 1945.
The magazine said US officials will show the documents and diagrams to the Security Council to bolster their case for the need for UN action against Tehran, which claims its nuclear work is only for peaceful purposes.
Iran, OPEC’s second biggest producer, has consistently warned that any sanctions would have worse consequences for the rest of the world.
“I think the Security Council will have to have a serious discussion about what the next steps will be,” US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said.
But Ms Rice said there was no need to rush to sanctions.
The Security Council could adopt a “presidential declaration” calling on Tehran to heed IAEA calls, diplomats said.
French President Jacques Chirac also said it was not too late for Iran to strike a deal.
Diplomats close to the IAEA said they did not expect there to be a result at this week’s board meeting, since the board will be applying the resolution from the February 4 session.
The five permanent Security Council members plus Germany, which are all on the IAEA board, may however issue a statement for Iran to honor the agency’s calls.
Iran announced it would resume uranium enrichment research on January 10, bringing an end to a two-year-old suspension it had agreed to with Britain, France and Germany.
The announcement provoked renewed concerns the country could master weapons technology, and prompted the IAEA’s 35-nation board to report Iran to the Security Council on February 4.