- (AFP) - Iran warned the United States that any attack
against it would be an "irreparable mistake" and denied US claims
it was harbouring al-Qaeda members.
- Foreign ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi also
President George W. Bush's charge last week that Iran is developing weapons
of mass destruction.
- "I only hope the Americans will not make such a
huge, irreparable mistake," Asefi told reporters Monday after being
asked about the possibility of a US attack on the Islamic republic.
- "It would be better if American leaders expressed
themselves on the basis of real facts and not their imagination, and if
they furnished some proof," he said.
- "The recent US accusations against Iran are inspired
and dictated by the Zionist regime, which shows yet again that the
are not sincere when they say they want rapprochement with
- US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said on Sunday he
had no doubt that Tehran helped members of the al-Qaeda network and its
allies, Afghanistan's former ruling Taliban, escape into Iran from
- "We deny all reports about the presence of al-Qaeda
members in Iran," Asefi said. "As far as we are concerned, our
borders are closed and we are blocking all illegal entry."
- Asefi's remarks come amid a war of words between the
two foes, which have not had diplomatic relations since 1980, several
after Islamic radicals seized the US embassy in Tehran.
- The verbal sparring was set off by Bush's claim, in his
State of the Union address last Tuesday, that Iran, Iraq and North Korea
constitute an "axis of evil" in the world.
- Government spokesman Abdullah Ramazan-Zadeh was also
quoted by radio as describing Bush's remarks as "fundamentalist and
contrary to the ideals of civilisation," and comparing the US
to a "Roman gladiator."
- Asked about alleged Iranian weapons of mass destruction,
Asefi said, "If you are talking about the Bushehr nuclear plant, it
is supervised, monitored and visited by the International Atomic Energy
Agency and Iran is a signatory of all international conventions in this
- Asefi also said Iran was opposed to threatened US strikes
against its neighbour Iraq, with which its relations are still poor after
their bitter 1980-88 war. Tehran opposed all attacks against an Islamic
state, he added.
- Asefi welcomed however the stance of the European Union
and Russia, which had distanced themselves from the US sabre-rattling.
"The world in general has not welcomed these American accusations
against Iran," he said.
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