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Iran: U.S. Cannot Afford Another War

Iran's foreign minister said Wednesday the United States is not in a position to launch a war against Iran because American taxpayers are already saddled with the very costly war in Iraq.

Nonetheless, Manouchehr Mottaki accused U.S. President George W. Bush's administration of engaging in a "psychological war" and raising the option of a military strike every six months over the last two years.

At some point during each six-month period, he said, "we were receiving information which looked very exact - in some specific hour and date the strike will take place."

While the United States maintains that all options including a military attack remain on the table, Mottaki said "Our analysis is clear. U.S. is not in a position to impose another war in our region against their taxpayers."

Mottaki said Iran warned the United States two years ago that it would retaliate if the U.S. administration made a "mad decision" to attack. But he refused to say what action Iran would take, saying it would be disclosed at the appropriate time by "the relevant people."

On the final day of the U.N. General Assembly's ministerial session, the Iranian minister told a news conference that his country is trying to avoid any confrontations and wants a peaceful solution to concerns about its nuclear activities.

The Bush administration and others in the West have repeatedly voiced concern over Iran's uranium enrichment program, arguing that it is aimed at producing nuclear weapons. Iran has vigorously rejected the claims, defying U.N. sanctions while stressing its program is peaceful and agreeing to answer questions from the U.N. nuclear agency.

"We are not looking for nuclear bomb. We do not need nuclear bomb, and it is not in our military doctrine to have nuclear weapons," Mottaki said.

In a setback for the United States, Iran won a reprieve from new U.N. sanctions over its nuclear program on Friday. The Bush administration and its European allies ceded to Russian and Chinese demands in the Security Council to give Tehran until November to address questions from the International Atomic Energy Agency about its nuclear program.

Mottaki said the foreign ministers of the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany finally adopted "a realistic approach to the issue" at Friday's meeting and supported an initiative by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei that led to the current cooperation with Iran.

"We do believe that the issue is considering now in its right and appropriate place, which is IAEA, and we do hope ... this process does work appropriately," he said.

Mottaki said there were six or seven areas where questions have been raised, and the file on plutonium has already been closed by the IAEA, but he did not know "how long it will take" to answer all the queries.

"We are committed to show transparently all parts of the activities in Iran," he said.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana warned Tehran Wednesday that the European Union wanted to see quick progress in international negotiations over its nuclear program.

"We can't wait forever, and we have to see those negotiations are moving ahead ... there is a risk of more sanctions and it is a real risk, we have to get that across," he said in Brussels.

On the issues of Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan - where Iran has been accused of interfering - Mottaki said: "Iran was, and is, always as a part of the solution in our region, not as part of the problem."

Asked about concerns from some Arab nations that Iran would fill a void in Iraq if U.S. forces pulled out, Mottaki said this "was not a realistic and correct understanding" of what Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said.

If foreign forces leave Iraq, which Iran believes they must do, the regional countries including Iran "are in the position to protect stability in the region," he said.

On Afghanistan, Mottaki said President Hamid Karzai's offer to talk to leaders of the ousted Taliban "is not a constructive signal." But he called on the international community to back the Karzai government and said Iran would continue supporting reconstruction in the country.

The only alternative to the Karzai government is civil war and more instability, he said.

"That's why international community and all the parties should support Mr. Karzai's government," Mottaki said.

As for Lebanon, where the pro-Western government and pro-Syrian opposition have been unable to elect a new president, Mottaki said "we believe no one should interfere."

"The Lebanese problem should meet with a Lebanese solution," he said. "What the countries in the region and outside the region can do is help the parties come closer together to reach a compromise."