Iran ready to confront US, warns Ahmadinejad

"If America confronts the Iranian nation, it will certainly be made to regret the move by Iran's firm response," Ahmadinejad said, warning that Tehran will not accept any accusations against its nuclear programme, Iran's Press TV reported.

"History has shown that anyone acting against the Iranian nation regrets it," the Iranian president said, as tensions mounted in the region over a report by UN nuclear investigators that Iran was close to developing atomic bombs.

The report is to be circulated among members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and is expected to focus on Iran's alleged efforts towards putting radioactive material in a warhead and developing missiles.

Ahmadinejad, who is also head of the Iran's National Supreme Security Council, said while Washington arrogantly accuses Tehran of producing nuclear bomb, it itself possesses over 5,000 nuclear warheads.

His revolutionary guard commanders were more direct in delivering threats that they would kill "dozens" of US military commanders, should the Americans target their force.

"They should not forget that US military commanders have a fair presence in the region. If you kill any of us, we will kill dozens of you," General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, chief of the guards air wing, was quoted by Press TV as saying.

The Iranian President denounced Washington's lack of commitment to nuclear disarmament, claiming that the US was spending an additional USD 81 billion to upgrade its nuclear arsenal, while the total budget of Iran's nuclear research was merely USD 250 million.

Ahmadinejad also blasted IAEA chief Yukia Amano for failing to act independently, saying, "Unfortunately, they have designated a person at the head of this agency that has no authority of his own, but violates the regulations of the organisation and merely restates US words."

The country's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi was quoted as saying, "There is no serious proof that Iran is going to create nuclear warhead. The US and the West are exerting pressure on Iran without serious arguments and proof."

As rhetoric from Tehran became shriller, the Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak did not rule out a military strike against Iran's nuclear facilities.

The Israeli minister was quoted as saying by Haretz daily that Tel Aviv would press that no option be taken off the table.

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