Iran will endure UN economic sanctions rather than give up nuclear fuel development, the vice president said.
The announcement came on Wednesday ahead of a new round of negotiations with European countries trying to rein in Iran's nuclear programme.
The European Union (EU) has threatened to take Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions if it restarts uranium reprocessing, an early stage in preparing raw uranium for fuel for a power reactor or for a nuclear weapon.
Iran has vowed to resume uranium reprocessing activities at its Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facility in central Iran but has agreed to give Europeans a "last chance" in negotiations next week.
Work to restart
"We are not interested to be subject to sanctions. We are not interested to go to the UN Security Council," Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh told state-run television late on Wednesday.
"But if it happens, the ruling establishment and the people are making the necessary predictions and resistance. They will pay the price of sanctions but, to me, won't give up these activities," said Aghazadeh, who also heads Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation.
Iran said its nuclear programme
is for peaceful purposes
Aghazadeh said Iran made its decision at a top level to restart work in Isfahan whether or not there is an agreement with the Europeans.
US officials think Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons under the cover of a peaceful nuclear programme. Iran denies this, saying its nuclear programme is geared towards generating electricity.
Iran suspended uranium enrichment-related activities six months ago to build international confidence and avoid being referred to the UN Security Council. So far, Iran has said it will not restart enrichment.
Tehran says it will not give up its right under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty to enrich uranium but is prepared to offer guarantees that its nuclear programme will not be diverted toward nuclear weapons.
Aghazadeh said Iran has clearly told Europeans that it will not give up the nuclear technology it has mastered and that the technology in Iran's hands was "irreversible".
Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Hasan Rowhani, is scheduled to meet foreign ministers of France, Britain and Germany on 23 May.
Tehran says the talks will be the "last chance" in negotiations to avert a nuclear crisis before Tehran resumes reprocessing activities.
"They [Europe] rejected our proposal during London talks (last month) and refused to give their own proposals. It was then that the ruling system decided that these talks under this system are meaningless"
Iranian vice president
France, Britain and Germany, acting on behalf of the 25-nation European Union, want Tehran to abandon its enrichment activities in exchange for economic aid and technical support.
Aghazadeh said Europeans failed to come up with proposals on what sort of guarantees they wanted from Iran and that led Iran to offer guarantees itself that its nuclear programme won't be diverted towards weapons.
"They rejected our proposal during London talks (last month) and refused to give their own proposals. It was then that the ruling system decided that these talks under this system are meaningless," he said.