UNITED NATIONS - Iran told a conference reviewing the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty yesterday that it was determined to press ahead with uranium enrichment. It accused the United States and Europe of trying to keep an exclusive hold on technological advancement.
"It is unacceptable that some tend to limit the access to peaceful nuclear technology to an exclusive club of technologically advanced states under the pretext of nonproliferation," Kamal Kharrazi, Iran's foreign minister, said from the podium of the General Assembly where the monthlong gathering was in its second day.
Iran, he said, would pursue "all legal areas of nuclear technology, including enrichment, exclusively for peaceful purposes." He said the terms of the treaty permit it to do so.
In Tehran, the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Asefi, said Iran would soon resume some nuclear activities that had been suspended. He indicated the nation would not restart uranium enrichment as long as talks continued with European negotiators.
France, Britain and Germany have been seeking guarantees from Iran that it will not use its nuclear program to make weapons, which the United States, pressing for more aggressive action, suspects is its goal. Enriched at a low level, uranium can fuel a power plant; further enriched, it can be used to manufacture nuclear bombs.
At the conference Monday, Stephen G. Rademaker, an assistant secretary of state, said the United States insists that any solution "include permanent cessation of Iran's enrichment and reprocessing efforts, as well as dismantlement of equipment facilities related to such activity."
Rademaker's statement was intended to focus the conference on loopholes in the 35-year-old treaty, which he charged that both Iran and North Korea have exploited. Others among the more than 180 nations here want to direct attention at compelling declared nuclear states to step up their disarmament.
American officials believe that North Korea, which pulled out of the treaty and evicted inspectors two years ago, might be preparing for a test that would end debate about whether the research it conducted while still a member has been successfully converted into a program to build nuclear warheads.
In Washington there is concern that Iran might be following the same model.
Kharrazi insisted that Iran remained eager to provide European negotiators with the guarantees of its peaceful intent, but he harshly criticized the demands being made as "arbitrary and self-serving criteria and thresholds regarding proliferation-proof and proliferation-prone technologies."
"This attitude is in clear violation of the letter and spirit of the treaty and destroys the fundamental balance which exists between the rights and obligations in the treaty," he said.