TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran’s “allies around the globe” would retaliate against any strike by the United States, an influential cleric said Friday ahead of a speech by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on the progress of Iran’s nuclear project.
Ahmad Khatami, a staunch Ahmadinejad supporter, said Washington would run into a quagmire if it attacked. President Barack Obama is pushing for new U.N. sanctions against Iran but has not ruled out military action to stop it getting a nuclear bomb.
“If America makes a crazy move, its interests will be endangered by Iran’s allies around the globe,” Khatami, a member of Iran’s powerful Assembly of Experts, said at Friday prayers at Tehran University.
The United States and Israel say Iran finances militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah as well as armed groups in Iraq.
A Hezbollah official told Reuters last month: “Any attack on Iran could ignite the whole region.”
Thursday Iran’s military commander said U.S. troops stationed in the Middle East would be targeted for retaliation in the event of any U.S. strike.
Obama is urging world powers to back a new round of sanctions against Iran over a nuclear program he believes is aimed at developing an atomic bomb.
In a speech later Friday to mark Iran’s annual national nuclear day, Ahmadinejad was expected to announce news on the atomic program which he says is purely for the peaceful purposes of generating electricity and for medical treatments.
Thursday, when Obama said he expected “tough” sanctions to be agreed this spring, Ahmadinejad said he would rather see sanctions than have to beg to avoid them.
Additional reporting by Ramin Mostafavi; writing by Robin Pomeroy, editing by Alistair Lyon