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    Iran Says Imposition of Sanctions Would Provoke Strong Response

    Iran has warned that it will take "radical measures" if the U.N. Security Council imposes sanctions over Iran's nuclear program. But the Foreign Ministry also says Iran will cooperate fully with the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, if its case is referred back there.

    Iran is continuing efforts to head off international action over its nuclear program, combining promises of cooperation with vows never to back down.

    Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters, Iran is open to dialogue, but he said the imposition of sanctions would provoke a strong response.

    "If the Security Council discusses Iran's case and decides against us, Iran will keep all its options open," he said. "This means that if their decision is radical, Iran's reaction will be radical. If it is rational, our decisions will also be rational."

    The U.N. nuclear watchdog agency reported to the Security Council on Friday that Iran has failed to comply with Security Council demands that it stop its nuclear-enrichment program.

    Iran says it has successfully enriched uranium to the level needed for nuclear power plants, and insists that the process is irreversible. Tehran says the international community must now deal with it as a nuclear power.

    Western nations believe Tehran could be building a nuclear bomb. Iranian leaders have denied that, and say their nuclear ambitions are peaceful.

    The United States, France and Britain want the Security Council to legally require Iran to freeze its nuclear-enrichment activity. Such a decision could pave the way for sanctions, if Iran still fails to comply. But the two other veto-holding nations on the Security Council, Russia and China, favor continued diplomatic efforts.

    Iran has made several attempts to have the case referred back to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

    On Saturday, Iran offered to let the agency, known as the IAEA, resume snap inspections of its nuclear facilities.

    Asefi says if the agency and the Security Council commit to dealing with the case only through the IAEA, in his words, "We are ready for maximum cooperation."

    Speaking in Pakistan, Iran's deputy oil minister said he doubts the Security Council will impose sanctions on Iran, because it would increase oil prices.

    Iran has 10 percent of the world's proven oil reserves and is the second-largest producer in OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries).

    The foreign ministers of the five Security Council members plus Germany are scheduled to meet in New York in one week to discuss the next step.

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