Mottaki says US can't start war against Iran

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UNITED NATIONS, Oct 3 (Reuters) Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said today the United States was in no position to start a war against Tehran against the wishes of its taxpayers, given its military commitment in Iraq.

Mottaki reiterated that Iran's nuclear program, which the United States believes is aimed at producing nuclear weapons, was purely peaceful. He accused Washington of arrogance and engaging in ''psychological warfare'' against his country.

''The US is not in the position to impose another war in the region against the (US) taxpayers,'' Mottaki told a news conference at the United Nations.

He said that since the Iraq war, ''some arrogant power'' was no longer able to impose its will in the West Asia, but Iran still needed to take precautions.

''Any country, based on its defense policies and doctrine, should be prepared,'' he said.

''We have informed two years ago the Americans what will happen if they make such a mad decision against our country,'' Mottaki said. Asked to expand on possible Iranian retaliation, he declined to say how Iran would defend itself.

''I prefer to talk about the peace than the war,'' he said.

The United States says it seeks a diplomatic solution with Tehran over its nuclear program but has ruled out no option.

Mottaki, speaking in English, said that every six months there was a ''kind of psychological war'' suggesting a US strike against Iran was imminent.

''We were receiving information which looked very exact of some specific hour and date the strike will take place.'' In an apparent reference to the United States, Mottaki said: ''They were looking ... at some specific goals. The nuclear issue itself was not the goal.'' ''We tried to brief our friends in the region that Iran was trying its best to avoid any confrontation in the region,'' Mottaki said.

DEFYING THE UN ON ENRICHMENT Iran has defied two UN resolutions demanding it suspend sensitive activities such as uranium enrichment. Iran agreed with the UN's atomic agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, in August to gradually explain the scope of its nuclear program but Western powers suspect this is a delaying tactic.

Mottaki said Washington was trying to deprive Iran of its right to nuclear power. ''Enrichment is part of our right to have nuclear technology for peaceful purposes,'' he said.

Six major powers last week delayed a UN vote on tougher sanctions on Iran until late November at the earliest.

Washington also accuses Iran of interfering in Iraq by giving support to anti-American militants there.

Mottaki said Tehran's policy was to ensure stability in the region, not only in Iraq, but also in Afghanistan and Lebanon.

''Always we had our constructive role in the region,'' he said. ''But yes, we do follow justice. We cannot accept imposed policies of some arrogant power toward my country. That is the right of our nation.'' REUTERS RS KP2320

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