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Iran says overstretched US cannot launch strikes

AFP | May 30 2006

The United States would not be able to launch military strikes on Iran because it is already overstretched on too many fronts, Iran's Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said Tuesday.

Mottaki said he was not concerned about the prospect of military action if Iran fails to comply with US demands over its nuclear program, which it insists is only for peaceful purposes.

"They can't. The US is not in a position to impose another crisis on taxpayers. There are a lot of difficulties in Iraq and Palestine. They are not in a position to create a new crisis in the region," he said.

"The US position is that they would not like other countries to have nuclear technology. This is a double standard policy. This is not acceptable," he added.

Mottaki was speaking at a meeting of the 114-nation Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) which was set Tuesday to issue a declaration supporting Iran's right to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

A draft statement obtained by AFP warned that any attack against nuclear facilities "poses a great danger to human beings and the environment, and constitutes a grave violation to international law."

"The ministers reaffirmed the basic and inalienable right of developing countries to engage in research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, without any discrimination," it said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Monday that world powers are prepared to guarantee Iran's nuclear rights provided it eases international concerns over its intentions and cooperates fully with the UN atomic watchdog.

One European diplomat said the talks were being arranged to "fine-tune" an EU-drafted package of incentives to get Iran to guarantee it will not make nuclear weapons, as well as sanctions if Tehran does not comply.

The United States suspects Iran is working secretly toward building its own nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian drive for atomic power, and accuses Tehran of failing to cooperate with the IAEA.

Iran denies the charges, saying its nuclear work is confined strictly to generating energy and insisting that it has always cooperated with the IAEA.

Mottaki has said that any new incentive which did not acknowledge Iran's right to develop nuclear energy on its own would be a non-starter.




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