Iran says U.S. can't afford another war

( AP ) - Iran's foreign minister said Wednesday the United States is not in a position to attack his country because Washington cannot afford another costly war in the region.

Manouchehr Mottaki accused President Bush's administration of engaging in "psychological war" and had raised the option of a military strike every six months over the last two years.

The " U.S. is not in a position to impose another war in our region against their taxpayers," Mottaki said.

The U.S. maintains that all options including a military attack remain on the table.

But 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. He refused to say what action Iran would take.

On the final day of the U.N. General Assembly's ministerial session, the Iranian minister told a news conference 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 it is aimed at producing nuclear weapons. Iran rejects 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 (a) nuclear bomb. We do not need (a) 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, the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, about its nuclear program.

Mottaki said the foreign ministers of the U.S., 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 are committed to show transparently all parts of the activities in Iran," he said.

French diplomatic officials said Wednesday that Iran is set to run almost 3,000 centrifuges by the end of the month, nearing the threshold for industrial-scale uranium enrichment in its nuclear program. The revelation was based on a memo from the IAEA received in Paris on Wednesday.

Enriched uranium can be used to produce both nuclear energy and nuclear weapons.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana warned Tehran 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.

Mottaki also defended Iran against allegations that it plays a negative role in Iraq, Lebanon and Afghanistan.

He said Iran was "part of the solution in our region" not 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 not a "correct understanding" of what 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.

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