DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – Iran’s president denied telling a newspaper that his government might curtail oil sales if Iran is referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions over its nuclear program.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “never had an interview, either oral or written, with the Khaleej Times,” the president’s office said in a statement late Saturday.

Earlier in the day, the Dubai-based newspaper reported that Ahmadinejad threatened to curb oil sales or limit nuclear inspections in response to last month’s resolution by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The resolution warned Iran it would be referred to the U.N. Security Council unless it allayed fears about its nuclear program.

“If Iran’s case is sent to the Security Council, we will respond by many ways, for example, by holding back on oil sales or limiting inspections of our nuclear facilities,” Ahmadinejad said, according to the newspaper.

The president’s office denied this, saying: “Such a claim is nothing more than a mere fabrication.”

The Khaleej Times could not contacted about the denial after hours Saturday. Its Web site carried the interview without any mention of Ahmadinejad’s rebuttal, which was published by the official Islamic Republic News Agency.

Iran pumps about 4 million barrels daily, making it the second-largest producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries after Saudi Arabia.

The United States does not purchase Iranian oil, but it would be affected by a substantial Iranian curtailment of oil supplies as that would raise the price of oil on the world market.

Ahmadinejad’s reported remarks came after a resolution passed by the International Atomic Energy Agency last month put Iran on the verge of referral unless Tehran eases suspicions about its nuclear activities. Iran insists its nuclear program is for energy purposes, while the United States suspects Iran is trying to build nuclear weapons.

Since the U.N. nuclear agency’s resolution, other Iranian officials have threatened to resume uranium enrichment and block U.N. inspections of its nuclear facilities unless the U.N. nuclear agency stepped back from its action.

Iran has also threatened to use trade to punish countries that voted for the resolution, and last week the parliament began debating a bill to force the government to scale back cooperation with the IAEA.

The president criticized the resolution and foreign countries, however, for trying to impose their will on Iran,

“I said I’ll do every thing in order to uphold our national interest,” Ahmadinejad was reported as saying about his campaign promises ahead of the June presidential election. “One of these things is that we will have access to the nuclear supply process.”

“We don’t want to be at war with the world, ” he was reported as saying.

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