Iran tells U.S. not to "play with fire"


Bench Warmer
Jul 7, 2003
TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran warned the United States on Sunday not to attack its nuclear facilities and said talks with European nations might produce a deal to defuse the dispute.
"They know our capabilities. We have clearly told the Europeans to tell Americans not to play with fire," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told a weekly news briefing.

He said Iran was determined to continue its nuclear energy programme despite pressure from Washington, which accuses Tehran of pursuing atomic weapons and has refused to rule out any option, including force, to stop it acquiring them.

France, Britain and Germany, on behalf of the European Union, have been trying to persuade Iran to scrap potentially weapons related activities in return for economic incentives.

Asefi said there was a chance of a deal with the Europeans, describing the latest round of Iran-EU talks, which took place in Geneva on Friday, as "deeper and more professional".

He accused Washington of not respecting international rules and urged it to abandon unilateral policies. "The world can no longer pay the price of U.S. officials' foolishness," he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said last week Tehran must accept terms offered by the European Union or be referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.

Iran denies U.S. accusations it is building bombs under cover of a civilian nuclear energy programme. But Asefi said it would never permanently end its disputed nuclear activities.

"Iran strongly insists on its views and we will not give up our people's legitimate right," he declared.