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Iran leader says attack on his country unlikely

Written by: Staff

JAKARTA, May 12 (Reuters) Iran's nuclear standoff with Western powers is just ''psychological propaganda'', President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad today said and dismissed the chances of military action against his country as unlikely.

On a visit to fellow Muslim nation Indonesia, Ahmadinejad also accused the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), of double standards and working under the influence of the United States, Britain and France.

''Every country has the right to defend its right in accordance with the agreed way,'' he said during a meeting with Islamic scholars in the Indonesian capital Jakarta.

''But we think this issue is far from possible,'' he added when asked what he would do if Iran was attacked because of its nuclear programme.

''This whole thing is just psychological propaganda, but they know the Islamic republic nation of Iran is a strong nation. I think they have better sense than to have a war with Iran,'' he added.

Speculation over a possible military strike arose last month after US President George W Bush said that ''all options are on the table'' to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Tehran says it only wants to produce low-grade enriched uranium to use in atomic power reactors, not the highly enriched uranium needed to make bombs.

Washington and its European allies have been seeking a UN Security Council resolution that would oblige Iran to halt all uranium enrichment work or face possible sanctions.

The head of the IAEA yesterday welcomed moves to avert possible UN sanctions against Tehran and appealed for compromise after Ahmadinejad said he was ready to talk.

Mohamed ElBaradei said he was also pleased the UN Security Council was holding off from sanctions against Iran as Europeans work on a package of benefits to induce Tehran to cooperate.

The Iranian leader said the IAEA was being used by major Western powers.

''The IAEA has acted against its original mission because of pressures from the powerful countries,'' he told the clerics at the Nahdlatul Ulama, the largest Muslim organisation in Indonesia, the world's most populous Islamic nation.

Ahmadinejad kicked off his visit on Wednesday by meeting Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Economic ties are a major focus of the trip, particularly in the oil and gas sector.

Iran and Indonesia are members of the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, is on good terms with Iran and other West Asia countries as well as with the West and has offered to mediate in the dispute over Tehran's nuclear ambitions.

Ahmadinejad is due to fly to Bali today for a meeting of the Developing Eight group that also includes Indonesia, Nigeria, Malaysia, Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Reuters SI GC1230

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