United Nations — In Tehran and here on the world stage, an emphatic Iran said Tuesday it will press on with its uranium-enrichment technology, a program that has drawn Washington's fire and ratcheted up global nuclear tensions.
On the second day of a nonproliferation conference, Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said his country is "determined to pursue all legal areas of nuclear technology, including enrichment, exclusively for peaceful purposes."
In Iran's capital, a government spokesman said nuclear activities suspended during talks with European negotiators would be resumed, but not enrichment itself -- the processing of uranium gas through centrifuges to produce either fuel for nuclear power or the stuff of atom bombs.
At Monday's opening of the U.N. conference on the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the U.S. delegation reiterated Washington's demand that Tehran shut down and dismantle its enrichment program, which the Americans contend is a cover for weapons development.
Kharrazi responded Tuesday that his government, in negotiation with Germany, France and Britain, "has been eager to offer assurances and guarantees that (Iran's nuclear plans) remain permanently peaceful."
But "no one should be under the illusion," he said, that such guarantees will include an end to "legal activity" under the nonproliferation treaty, which says member states have a right to develop civilian nuclear energy.
The Iranian minister also made his own demands on Washington, saying the United States and other nuclear weapons states should enter into legally binding commitments not to use nuclear weapons on nonweapons states like Iran.
The big powers' nuclear arms "are the major sources of threat to global peace and security," Kharrazi said.
Other delegates also called for such commitments, known as "negative security assurances."
"Negative security assurances will strengthen security for all and buttress the nuclear nonproliferation regime," Algeria's Hocine Meghlaoui told the gathering of more than 180 nations.