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. Iran vows to crush any threat
TEHRAN, Jan 24 (AFP) Jan 24, 2007
Iran's defence minister vowed Wednesday that the country's armed forces would "crush" any military strike or threat, the latest broadside in a standoff with the West over its nuclear ambitions.

"The Islamic republic's armed forces are in a state of complete readiness and are monitoring everything in order to give a crushing response to even the smallest aggression or threat," Defence Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency.

Najjar also urged the administration of US President George W. Bush to be "rational" with Iran, amid speculation that Washington could be planning a strike on its nuclear installations.

"I advise Mr Bush and his advisors to be rational and think about their own nation's interest," he said.

Najjar's remarks came a day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered a defiant message to the United States, saying Washington could not hurt Tehran by waging what he called a "psychological war".

"They are not in a position to hurt us, they do not have the power to do so, their pressure is mostly psychological," he said.

US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns warned Tuesday that Washington would not allow Iran to "control" the oil-rich Gulf and had sent two carrier battle groups to the region in recent weeks.

Last month, the UN Security Council passed a resolution imposing sanctions on Iran banning transfer of material and technology to its nuclear and missile programmes over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment.

The West fears Iran's nuclear drive could be diverted to build atomic weapons, a charge vehemently denied by Iran.

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