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Iran dismisses threat of US attack

By Stuart Williams
TEHRAN 08 29 07

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Tuesday dismissed the chance of any US attack on Iran over its nuclear drive, saying a warning by his new French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy only showed his inexperience.

Ahmadinejad said Iran was now cooperating so well with the UN atomic agency that the long-running investigation into its nuclear programme was now "closed" and further UN sanctions action against Tehran were improbable.

"There is no way a possibility of such an attack by the United States. Even if they take such a decision, they cannot implement it," Ahmadinejad told a news conference marked by his characteristic defiance.

The White House, however, has never ruled out attacking Iran and Sarkozy had said in a keynote foreign policy address on Monday that Iran risked being bombed if the crisis over its atomic drive was not solved through diplomacy.

"He only recently came to power and wants to find a place for himself in the world," Ahmadinejad told reporters of the French president.

"He is still inexperienced, meaning that maybe he does not really understand the meaning of his own words," he added.

Sarkozy had said that the threat of sanctions coupled with an offer of dialogue was the only way of avoiding a "catastrophic alternative: an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran."

However Ahmadinejad argued that an agreement last week between Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meant the nuclear issue was on the right track and there was no need to fear further UN sanctions.

" Not one member of the IAEA has cooperated as well as Iran. So from our point of view, Iran's nuclear case is closed. Iran is a nuclear nation and has the nuclear fuel cycle," he said.

" We are going in the right direction (with the IAEA). I do not think that anyone will be able to interfere in this."

The deal reached between Iran and the IAEA last week sets out a detailed timetable for Tehran to answer outstanding questions about its atomic drive, which the United States charges is aimed at making nuclear weapons.

However the agreement does not tackle the key sticking point over whether Iran should suspend uranium enrichment activities and United States has dismissed the plan as having "real limitations".

Iran said on Tuesday that as part of its cooperation with the IAEA it has already cleared up questions about its experiments with plutonium, a potential atom bomb material.

The United States accuses Iran -- OPEC's number two oil producer and owner of the second largest proven gas reserves in the world -- of seeking to make nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian energy drive.

Iran insists that the drive is entirely peaceful and that its growing population will need nuclear power as fossil fuels start to run dry.

Tehran's refusal to suspend uranium enrichment -- a sensitive process that can be used both to make nuclear fuel and nuclear weapons -- has already seen it slapped with two sets of UN sanctions.

Diplomats in Vienna, where the IAEA is based, said the Iranian cooperation should stave off new UN sanctions this year but that Tehran must open up further if it wants to avoid punitive action in the longer term.

Ahmadinejad said that the cooperation between Iran and the IAEA had showed Western powers that using force to bring Tehran to heel would not work.

" The Iranian people are united, they believe in God, they believe in the reappearance of the Mahdi (the Shiite hidden imam)," he added, a day ahead of a public holiday in Iran to mark the imam's birth anniversary.

During his news conference, Ahmadinejad repeatedly invoked the strength of Iranian civilisation, religion and culture, saying this had ensured that Western threats had come to nothing.

" Our (nuclear) problem is solved. You will not be able to do anything against us... Being our enemy will not bring you anything except defeat," he said.

AFP 28 1546 GMT 08 07

Copyright© 2007 AFP. All rights reserved.



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