TEHRAN -- Within days, Iran said yesterday, it will resume building centrifuges for its nuclear program, a forceful rejection of severe international castigation.
But Tehran said it welcomed international supervision of the building program and said it would not use the devices to enrich uranium -- for the time being. The process can make uranium into fuel for peaceful or military nuclear purposes.
The White House called Iran's decision further proof it was trying to build an atomic bomb, and the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency -- the UN's nuclear watchdog -- said in Moscow that he hoped Iran would reverse its decision.
IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said: "I hope that this decision is of a temporary nature. I hope it will be reversed." Iran suspended the building of centrifuges and the enrichment of uranium under international pressure, part of the IAEA's attempts to determine the intent of Iran's nuclear program, much of which was kept secret for years.
The United States accuses Iran of trying to build nuclear weapons, and President Bush has labeled Iran part of an "axis of evil" with North Korea and prewar Iraq.
Iran maintains its atomic program is entirely peaceful, geared toward producing energy.
Iran repeatedly has said it wants to control the whole nuclear fuel cycle -- from extracting uranium ore to enriching it to a low grade for use as nuclear reactor fuel. Uranium enriched to low levels can be used in power plants, while highly enriched uranium is needed for bombs.