Ex-Iranian leader: U.S. waging ‘psychological war’

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DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) – Iran’s former president accused the United States Sunday of waging “a psychological war” against Tehran and said an American strike against the Islamic republic would not be in Washington’s interests.

Former Iranian President Hashemi Rafsanjani, who heads the Expediency Council, a powerful body that mediates between Iran’s parliament and clerical hierarchy, said Western nations’ attempts to block Iran’s nuclear program were “unjust.”

“Iran’s success in uranium enrichment is for the interest of the region’s countries and all Islamic countries,” Rafsanjani said. He reiterated the government position that Iran’s nuclear program was not intended to harm any country in the region.

“If the United States launched a military strike against Iran, that would be neither in its interests nor in the interests of the entire region,” Rafsanjani told a joint news conference in Damascus with Syrian Vice President Farouk al-Sharaa.

He said he believed that the United States was “incapable of taking a risk or engaging in a new war in the region without discussing the subject seriously.”

U.S. media reports have said the Bush administration was considering a military attack on Iran over its nuclear program, which Washington claims is designed to produce nuclear weapons. Iran says it is purely for generating energy.

President Bush has dismissed reports on attack plans as “wild speculation.”

On Tuesday, Iran’s hard-line president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, announced that Iran had successfully enriched uranium, which can be used to fuel nuclear reactors or build atomic bombs. Iran has rejected a U.N. Security Council demand for it to stop enriching uranium by April 28.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan wants a negotiated solution to the crisis over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, he said in an interview published Sunday in the ABC newspaper.

Annan told the conservative Madrid daily during a visit last week to Spain that any military operation against Iran would worsen a tense international situation.

“I think the issue is being handled properly by the International Atomic Energy Agency. I still believe that the best solution is a negotiated one, and I don’t see what a military operation would resolve,” ABC quoted Annan as saying.

AP-ES-04-16-06 1920EDT

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