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Ahmadinejad warns against attack on Iran
Says US and Israel mustering international backing for a military strike

Cairo, November 7
As tensions mounted in the Persian Gulf over accusations that Iran is close to making nuclear weapons, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today warned of any attacks against his country.

Alleging that US and Israel were mustering international backing for a military strike on Iran, Ahmadinejad claimed that Tehran had capabilities to deal such threats.

Iranian President's remarks came in an interview with Egypt's state-owned al-Akhbar newspaper and assumed significance in the wake of American media reports quoting UN experts that Tehran is on the threshold of making a nuclear bomb and had mastered the critical steps needed to build a weapon after receiving assistance from a foreign scientist.

"It is Israel that has about 300 nuclear warheads. Iran is only keen to have nuclear capability for peaceful means," he said, accusing Washington of lumping Iran with Syria, the Islamist Hamas movement that rules Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The US portrays those four as "the Axis of Evil to save the Zionist entity. But the Zionists are bound to go out of existence," he said.

Ahmadinejad also talked of Iran's growing military power, which has fuelled fear from the US that Iran is now able to compete with Israel and the West, he said.

"Yes, we have military capabilities that are different from any other country in the region," al-Akhbar cited Ahmadinejad as saying.

"Iran is increasing in capability and advancement and therefore we are able to compete with Israel and the West and especially the United States." "The US fears Iran's capability," he told the paper. "Iran will not permit anyone making a move against it."

Ahmadinejad accused Washington of inventing conspiracies to discredit Iran and sowing discord with its near neighbour Saudi Arabia.

Iran's Islamic rulers, who say Israel has no right to exist, deny accusations that they are seeking nuclear weapons and have warned they will respond to any attacks by striking at Israel and U.S. interests in the Gulf.

A senior U.S. military official said on Friday Iran had become the biggest threat to the United States and Israel's president said the military option to stop the Islamic republic from obtaining nuclear weapons was nearer.

Ahmadinejad repeated that Iran does not own a nuclear bomb, but said Israel's end was inevitable.

The U.N. nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, is expected this week to issue its most detailed report yet on research in Iran seen as geared to developing atomic bombs.

Responding to a U.S. claim that Iran was involved in a plot to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Ahmadinejad said: "Iran is farthest from thinking of carrying out such crimes but the U.S. is always inventing conspiracies against Iran". "The U.S. fears any friendship between us and Saudi Arabia and therefore incites disagreements," he said.

"To stop the U.S. in its tracks we must deepen the elements of friendship... We are ready for this and the relation between Saudi and Iran already exists and has not been cut off." PTI/Reuters

Ahmadinejad states

Tehran has capabilities to deal with such threats

Washington is inventing conspiracies

Israel has 300 nuclear warheads

Iran is only keen to have nuclear capability for peaceful means

The trigger

American media reports quoted UN experts that Tehran is on the threshold of making a nuclear bomb and had mastered the critical steps needed to build a weapon after receiving assistance from a foreign scientist.

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