Ahmadinejad likens claims of Iranian assassination plot to Iraq WMD

Iranian president says US claims of Iranian involvement in an alleged plot to kill Saudi ambassador will prove false

guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 18 October 2011 10.25 BST

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said US allegations of an Iranian assassination plot resemble its claims about weapons of mass destruction that formed the basis for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and would prove to be equally untrue.

The Iranian president suggested that the US aimed to cause a rift between Tehran and Saudi Arabia that would help Washington dominate the oil-rich Gulf and had fabricated the plot of an Iranian seeking to kill the Saudi ambassador to America.

“In the past the US administration claimed there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. They said it so strongly, they offered and presented documentations and everyone said: ‘Yes, we believe in you. We buy it,'” Ahmadinejad said in a live interview on al-Jazeera television on Monday evening.

“Now is everyone asking them, were those claims true? Did they find any weapon of mass destruction in Iraq? They fabricated a bunch of papers. Is that a difficult thing to do?

“The truth will be revealed ultimately and there will be no problem for us at that time,” he added.

Barack Obama hopes the alleged foiled plot will lead to tighter sanctions against Iran – already under several rounds of UN measures over its nuclear programme. The Us president has repeatedly said that all options were on the table to deal with the Islamic republic, a tacit threat of possible military action.

When asked whether he thought Iran and the US were on an inevitable “collision course” towards military conflict, Ahmadinejad replied: “I don’t think so. I think that there are some people in the US administration who want this to happen but I think there are wise people in the US administration who know they shouldn’t do such a thing.”

Nevertheless, Ahmad Reza Pourdastan, commander of Iranian ground forces, said his troops were “fully prepared and ready to give a quick response to any aggression on Iran’s soil”.

“Today America is too unsteady to even think about launching an attack on Iran,” he told the semi-official Fars news agency.

Saudi Arabia, Iran’s main rival in the Gulf and which has close ties with Washington, requested the United Nations look into what it called the “heinous conspiracy”. On Monday the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, said he had passed correspondence about the affair to the security council.

Ahmadinejad called on Saudis not to fall for a US strategy which he said aimed to divide and conquer the Gulf.

“If the US administration is under the impression that by doing this it can create conflict between us and Saudi Arabia then I have to say the US administration is sorely mistaken.

“The US administration is not interested in Iran or in Saudi Arabia. They see their interests in having a dispute between Iran and Saudi Arabia – they want to dominate our region,” he said.

The events of the Arab spring have strained Iran’s relations with Saudi Arabia, as each tries to assert its position in the region amid a welter of sectarian and geopolitical rivalries.

Even before the uprisings began, a leaked US cable published on WikiLeaks said Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah had urged the US to “cut off the head of the snake” by launching military strikes to destroy Iran’s nuclear programme.

The furore over the alleged assassination plot appears to have killed any chance of a quick return to talks between Tehran and world powers concerned about its nuclear programme, but the foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, said Iran would examine the allegations.

“We are prepared to examine any issue, even if fabricated, seriously and patiently, and we have called on America to submit to us any information in regard to this scenario,” the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying.

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