IRAN: Ahmadinejad threatens Obama with 'tooth-breaking' response to U.S. nuclear strategy
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday accused President Obama of threatening to use "chemical and nuclear" weapons against nations that "do not submit to the greed of the United States." The remarks came a day after the White House unveiled a new strategy that did not rule out nuclear strikes against Iran and North Korea.
"Be careful," Ahmadinejad warned Obama, according to numerous media reports. "If you set step in [President George] Bush's path, the nations' response would be the same tooth-breaking one as they gave Bush."
Obama's new nuclear strategy has been hailed by some as a step toward reducing U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons by ruling out nuclear attacks on non-nuclear states that adhere to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The White House made clear, however, that this promise does not extend to "outliers" like Iran and North Korea.
Speaking on Iranian TV, Ahmadinejad chided the U.S. president: "Obama made these latest remarks because he is inexperienced and an amateur politician. American politicians are like cowboys. Whenever they have legal shortcomings, their hands go to their guns."
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, during a news conference in Washington on Tuesday, referred to Iran and North Korea when he said that nations that are "not going to play by the rules, if you are going to be a proliferator, than all options are on the table in terms of how we deal with you."
Obama said the strategy is intended to provide "a graded series of options" in the face of unconventional nuclear threats from terrorist groups and other non-state actors, rather than the all-or-nothing nuclear approach of the Cold War era.
Obama is expected to lead the charge for new sanctions against Iran in the coming weeks in hopes of pressuring Iran to end its nuclear program, which it claims is peaceful.
Drafts of the proposed sanctions include measures that target Iranian banks, imports of refined oil, and shipping insurance to and from Iran, Reuters has reported. The United States and its ally Israel, which has accused Iran of posing an existential threat to the Jewish state, have not ruled out military intervention should sanctions fail to thwart Iran's nuclear ambitions.
--Meris Lutz in Beirut
Photo: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad touring Iran's nuclear facilities in Natanz in 2008. Credit: Ahmadinejad's office via the Associated Press