updated 7/31/2004 8:24:47 AM ET 2004-07-31T12:24:47

Iran vowed Saturday not to give up its uranium enrichment program and confirmed that it has restarted building centrifuges for that purpose.

Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said Iran has not resumed enriching uranium but restarted work on centrifuges in response to the failure of Britain, Germany and France to help close Iran's nuclear dossier in June.

"We still continue suspension on uranium enrichment, meaning that we have not resumed enrichment," Kharrazi told a press conference Saturday. "But we are not committed to another agreement with them (Britain, Germany and France) on not to build centrifuges."

Diplomats said this week that Tehran has restarted equipment used to make uranium hexaflouride, which -- when injected into centrifuges and spun -- can be enriched to low levels to be used as fuel to generate electricity or to levels high enough to make nuclear weapons.

Kharrazi said Iran restarted the centrifuge construction after the three European countries failed to help close Iran's nuclear dossier despite promising in February to work toward closure by June if Iran stopped making centrifuges. It did so in April.

In talks still under way in Paris, officials from Iran and the European Union's "Big Three" are seeking a common position on Tehran's nuclear program amid increasing U.S. pressure to refer Iran's nuclear dossier to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.

The highly secret talks began Thursday ahead of the mid-September meeting of the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, to discuss Iran's controversial nuclear program.

Iran says talks should create confidence
Kharrazi said the talks in Paris sought to create confidence that Iran was not seeking to make an atom bomb but said there was no way Iran would give up its uranium enrichment program.

"We are holding these talks to reach further understanding and create more confidence in the direction that we are not seeking nuclear weapons," he said.

"At the same time, we will insist on our legitimate rights and won't allow others to deprive us of our natural and legal rights," Kharrazi said.

The United States accuses Iran of trying to build nuclear weapons against its Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations and has been seeking to haul Tehran before the U.N. Security Council. Iran maintains its nuclear program is entirely peaceful, geared toward production of nuclear energy.

Iran suspended actual uranium enrichment last year under international pressure. In return, Britain, Germany and France promised to make it easier for Iran to obtain advanced nuclear technology.

Iran says it will remain committed to that suspension despite Europe's failure to provide Iran with the technology.

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