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Tehran Warns US Against Military Action Over Nuclear Program


Iran is warning the United States that any military attack on Iran's nuclear facilities would backfire. At the same time, Tehran says it will not suspend conversion of uranium ore, days after the International Atomic Energy Agency appealed for the country to halt all nuclear activities.

In a news conference in Tehran, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said any U.S. military action to stop Tehran's nuclear program would be a mistake.

Mr. Asefi said, if Iran were attacked, it has what he described as "options for defending the country."

The Iranian comments came after President Bush told Israeli television the United States is keeping all options on the table to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The U.S. leader said these options include the use of force, but only as a last resort.

Speaking on the U.S. television program Fox News Sunday, Republican Senator John McCain said he supports efforts to resolve the issue diplomatically, but he added that he agrees with President Bush's position.

"I guess my point is, for us to say that the Iranians can do whatever they want to do, and we won't, under any circumstances, exercise a military option, would be for them to have a license to do whatever they want to do," he said. "So, I think the president's comments that we wouldn't take the [military] option off the table was entirely appropriate."

Meanwhile, Senator McCain expressed disappointment with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who on Saturday urged the United States not to threaten force against Iran, saying he believes such threats have not worked in the past.

Iran last week rejected a proposal from Britain, France and Germany that offered economic and political incentives in return for suspending all nuclear activities.

At the same time, Iran re-started conversion of uranium ore into uranium gas at its Isfahan plant. Iranian spokesman Asefi said Europe's behavior in the next few days will affect his government's decision on whether to resume uranium enrichment at the Natanz nuclear plant. Enriched uranium can be used as fuel for reactors or atomic bombs.

Following last week's International Atomic Energy Agency appeal to Iran to halt its uranium conversion, Tehran now runs the risk of possible U.N. Security Council sanctions.

Western nations suspect Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran says its nuclear program is peaceful and for electric power generation only.