TEHRAN - Iran accused the United States of trying to disrupt its nuclear negotiations with the European Union by evoking the threat of a military strike, and warned Washington it would respond to any "unwise measure."
"With reliance on enormous popular support, diplomatic capacity and full military capability, the Islamic Republic of Iran will firmly respond to any unwise measure or plan," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said in a statement responding to "recent comments by US officials".
On Monday US President George W. Bush said he could not rule out a resort to military action if the United States failed to persuade Iran to abandon a nuclear energy programme it charges is a cover for developing the bomb.
US secretary of state-designate Condoleezza Rice also called Tuesday for world action to keep Iran from building nuclear weapons, and repeated a threat to haul the Islamic republic before the UN Security Council for sanctions.
"We see such moves as a psychological campaign and political pressure," Asefi said.
He said one of the aims of the US administration was "not to help and enourage Europe to peacefully settle some disagreements through diplomacy and talks, but to disrupt the Iran-EU nuclear talks by pretending they are unsuccessful."
The EU's "big three" -- Britain, France and Germany -- have been spearheading diplomatic efforts with Iran and are in the midst of crucial talks aimed at finding a long-term solution that would ease international worries.
"We recommend the new American foreign minister avoids repeating past mistakes by reviewing America's wrong and unsuccessful policies of unilateralism and oppression," Asefi said of Rice.
"The United States of America has fallen into an abyss of several crises as a result of the wrong attitude of hard line neo-conservatives. There is no way out unless it reviews and corrects past mistakes."
The foreign ministry statement also followed a report in the New Yorker magazine Monday that US commandos had been operating inside Iran since mid-2004 to search out potential targets for attack -- something the magazine said could come as early as mid-2005.
The Pentagon said the report was "riddled with errors."
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