Khatami: US nuclear threat to the world

Iranian President Muhammad Khatami yesterday warned that countries which threaten to use nuclear weapons against their enemies pose a threat to the entire planet, responding to a leaked US report on the Bush administration’s nuclear strategy. «The powers that threaten other peoples with nuclear weapons threaten not just these peoples but the whole of humanity,» Khatami said after a meeting in Athens with Church of Greece leader Archbishop Christodoulos, at the end of a three-day visit to Greece. «If we have such a development, no people will be secure. Nor will the people or the leadership of the country that threatens the use of nuclear weapons.» A US Defense Department nuclear policy review leaked to the American press has named Iran along with Russia, China, Iraq, Libya, Syria and North Korea as potential targets for a US nuclear attack. And in January, US President George Bush referred to Iran, Iraq and North Korea as members of an «axis of evil» that need to be confronted. Although Khatami refused to be drawn on that question during his visit to Athens, on Wednesday he distinguished between «when one threatens the world with the nuclear menace and when one builds coalitions to wage war» and «when one starts a dialogue for civilization and the resolution of problems.» In his meetings in Athens, the moderate Iranian leader came in for praise from Greek politicians for Tehran’s «important role in the fight against terrorism,» and its support for the new Afghan government. Washington accuses Iran of trying to destabilize Afghanistan. In an interview with today’s Ta Nea daily, excerpts of which were made public yesterday, Khatami accused the USA of threatening stability in Central Asia by maintaining troops in Afghanistan. «Not only will the peoples of the region be unable to tolerate the presence of foreign troops, but the American military presence could also prompt the arrival of other military forces, from China and Russia,» he said. Khatami flew back to Iran yesterday afternoon. During a visit to the Acropolis on Thursday, Khatami delighted Greek officials by expressing support for the country’s campaign for the return of the British Museum’s Elgin Collection of sculptures from the Parthenon to Athens.

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