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Iran vows to defend nuclear facilities from attack

Foreign minister: 'We are against nuclear bombs'


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(CNN) -- Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazzi said on Tuesday that Tehran would "react" militarily if Israel were to launch an airstrike against any of its nuclear facilities.

"We don't use our capabilities as first user, but it is defensive and we would react to it," he told CNN.

Asked what he meant by "react," Kharazzi said, "You have to wait and see."

Kharazzi made his comments after being asked how Iran would respond if Israel were to conduct an attack on its facilities, similar to when Israel bombed Iraq's Osirak nuclear facility in 1981.

Israel has given no indication that it would take such an action against Iran.

In the interview, Kharazzi said Iran is not developing nuclear weapons and that "we are against nuclear bombs."

"It's not part of our defense strategy, and we do not believe that it would add to the security of the country," he said. "Be assured that we do not have such a program at all."

The United Nations' nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has demanded that Iran suspend uranium-enrichment and centrifuge activities, but Iran has rejected that demand.

There have been longstanding international concerns that Iran has aspirations to develop nuclear weapons, though Tehran maintains its program is peaceful in nature.

Kharazzi said Tehran is cooperating with IAEA inspectors, and he accused the United States of mischaracterizing what is going on because Washington "is looking for its own interest and has got its own political motivation.

"Iran is quite transparent. All the sites are under inspection of IAEA."

Kharazzi did acknowledge that Iran is developing long-range and medium-range missiles that could hit targets throughout the Middle East and possibly into Europe, but he said the weapons are for "defensive" purposes.

"Certainly, we have to be able to defend ourselves. And, you see, there [are] threats these days against Iran. And, therefore, we have to be able to defend," he said, before adding, "And we are able to defend."

In an interview Monday on Fox News, President Bush said the United States was determined that Tehran not develop a nuclear weapon.

"We've made it clear: Our position is that they won't have a nuclear weapon," Bush said. "We are working our hearts out so that they don't develop a nuclear weapon, and the best way to do so is to continue to keep international pressure on them."

Bush said he hopes to resolve the matter diplomatically.

"All options are on the table, of course, in any situation. But diplomacy is the first option," he said.

Last week, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said Iran would pursue its nuclear program "whether under supervision or not."

The IAEA urged Iran to "hold back," saying it is in Iran's interest to rebuild confidence with the rest of the world.


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