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God and maths convince Ahmadinejad Iran is safe

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says his calculations as an engineer and his belief in God convince him that Iran will not be attacked by Western powers trying to end its nuclear programme.

Iran is under pressure to halt work that the West believes is part of a covert bid to build nuclear warheads. Tehran’s denials and refusal to stop have prompted increasingly tough rhetoric from Western leaders, including refusals by Washington to rule out military action.

Ahmadinejad, who regularly chides the West and talks proudly of his academic skills, brushed off the suggestion that force might be used.

“There were days when some inside the country were pressuring us to retreat, (saying) ‘Otherwise there will be a war’,” Ahmadinejad told students and academics on Sunday, according to the daily Etemad-e Melli.

“But I told them that I am an engineer and familiar with analysis and examination ... The enemies will not dare to fight us,” he told the group.

“I give two reasons to those who have the same concern. First, I am an engineer, a master of calculation and tabulation. I write out hypotheses for hours, I reject and I prove them again. I make plans based on reason and proof ...

“They (Iran’s enemies) are not able to make problems for Iran,” he said.

“Second, I believe in what God has said. God said those who move on the correct path will win.”

Ahmadinejad, a former commander in the Revolutionary Guards who has a university doctorate, told a news conference last week that he would like to spend more time in academic work if his presidential duties allowed him the opportunity.

On that occasion he also dismissed prospects of a U.S. attack, saying U.S. power in Iraq and the region was waning.

Washington has said it wants diplomacy to end the nuclear row but has not ruled out military action if that fails. U.S. President George W. Bush said last week that Iran’s atomic plans put the region “under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust”.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said last week that a diplomatic push was the only alternative to “an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran”.

Washington is pushing the U.N. Security Council to impose a third set of sanctions after previous rounds failed to persuade Iran to give up uranium enrichment -- which Iran insists is purely for power, although it could be used for nuclear weapons.

The French Foreign Ministry said on Monday that a recent agreement on cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency showed that Iran “understands the impact of the sanctions and the resulting isolation”.

“International pressure must be increased so that Iran suspends its sensitive activities,” spokeswoman Pascale Andreani told an online news conference.