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. Iran warns UN against tough nuclear resolution
TEHRAN, July 23 (AFP) Jul 23, 2006
Iran warned Sunday it would retaliate if the UN Security Council passed a resolution ordering it to stop sensitive nuclear work, but also made a fresh appeal for negotiations "without preconditions".

"Any harsh measures will face a proportionate reaction," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters.

"If the other side chooses anything but the path of negotiations, our attitude will change accordingly," he added, without elaborating on how Tehran could retaliate.

The warning came as a draft resolution was circulated in the UN Security Council. If adopted, Iran would be legally obliged to suspend all uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities, at the centre of fears the country could acquire nuclear weapons.

Iran insists that it only wants to enrich uranium to make reactor fuel, and argues that this is a right under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Several senior Iranian officials have already warned that the Islamic republic could end UN inspections and leave the NPT.

"Iran will clearly not give up its rights. Our rights are non-negotiable," Asefi said, while at the same time appealing for negotiations "without any preconditions" to resolve the nuclear standoff.

The five permanent Security Council members plus Germany decided to send the Iran nuclear dossier back to the Security Council after Tehran failed to respond to an offer of incentives in exchange for a halt to enrichment.

Iran has said it is prepared to negotiate, but not suspend first.

"Everything should be a result of negotiations," Asefi said, adding that Iran was still studying the proposal.

"After the committees' work is done, we will give a response and start talks for achieving results," he said.

Iran has promised to reply by August 22.

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