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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Iran: We'd hit back at attacker

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) -- If the United States were to attack Iran, the country would respond by striking U.S. interests all over the world, Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Thursday.

Speaking to a gathering of Iranian air force commanders, Khamenei said: "The enemy knows well that any invasion would be followed by a comprehensive reaction to the invaders and their interests all over the world."

Iranian leaders often speak of a crushing response to any attack. While the remarks are seen as an attempt to drum up national support, Iran's position on Iraq and its nuclear program has provoked more than usual international pressure in recent months.

U.S. President George W. Bush has ordered American troops to act against Iranians suspected of being involved in the Iraqi insurgency and has deployed a second aircraft carrier to the Gulf area as a warning to Iran.

The U.N. Security Council has imposed sanctions because of Iran's refusal to cease uranium enrichment, and is due to consider strengthening later this month.

"Some people say that the U.S. president is not prone to calculating the consequences of his actions," Khamenei said in remarks broadcast on state television, "but it is possible to bring this kind of person to wisdom."

"U.S. policymakers and analysts know that the Iranian nation would not let an invasion go without a response," Khamenei added.

Khamenei addressed rumors about his health -- a subject that is rarely discussed openly in Iran. Last month, there was speculation that his health had deteriorated seriously.

"Enemies of the Islamic system fabricated various rumors about death and health to demoralize the Iranian nation, but they did not know that they are not dealing with only one person in Iran. They are facing a nation," Khamenei said.
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