TEHRAN (Reuters) - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday U.S. allegations of an Iranian assassination plot resembled its claims of weapons of mass destruction that formed the basis for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and would prove to be equally untrue.
Ahmadinejad said Washington had fabricated the plot of an Iranian seeking to kill Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Washington in order to cause a rift between Tehran and Saudi Arabia and dominate the oil-rich Gulf.
“In the past the U.S. administration claimed there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. They said it so strongly, they offered and presented documentations and everyone said ‘yes, we believe in you, we buy it’,” Ahmadinejad said in a live interview on Al Jazeera television.
”Now is everyone asking them, were those claims true? Did they find any weapon of mass destruction in Iraq? They fabricated a bunch of papers. Is that a difficult thing to do?
“The truth will be revealed ultimately and there will be no problem for us at that time,” Ahmadinejad said.
U.S. President Barack Obama hopes the foiled alleged plot will lead to tighter sanctions against Iran -- already under several rounds of U.N. measures over its nuclear program -- and repeated that all options are on the table to deal with the Islamic republic -- a tacit threat of possible military action.
When asked whether he thought Iran and the United States were on an inevitable ”collision course“ toward military conflict, Ahmadinejad replied: ”I don’t think so.
“I think that there are some people in the U.S. administration who want this to happen but I think there are wise people in the U.S. administration who know they shouldn’t do such a thing.”
Nevertheless, the commander of the Iranian army ground forces said his troops were “fully prepared and ready to give a quick response to any aggression on Iran’s soil.”
“Today America is too unsteady to even think about launching an attack on Iran,” Ahmad Reza Pourdastan told the semi-official Fars news agency.
Saudi Arabia, Iran’s main rival in the Gulf and with close ties with Washington, requested the United Nations look into what it called the “heinous conspiracy” and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Monday he had passed correspondence about the affair to the Security Council.
Ahmadinejad called on Saudis not to fall for a U.S. strategy which he said aimed to divide and conquer the Gulf.
”If the U.S. administration is under the impression that by doing this it can create conflict between us and Saudi Arabia then I have to say the U.S. administration is sorely mistaken.
“The U.S. administration is not interested in Iran or in Saudi Arabia. They see their interests in having a dispute between Iran and Saudi Arabia -- they want to dominate our region,” he said.
Iran’s relations with Saudi Arabia have been strained by the events of the “Arab Spring” as each tries to assert its position in the region amid a welter of sectarian and geo-political rivalries.
Even before the Arab uprisings began, a leaked U.S. cable published on WikiLeaks said Saudi King Abdullah had urged the United States to “cut off the head of the snake” by launching military strikes to destroy Iran’s nuclear program.
The plot furor appears to have killed any chance of a rapid return to talks between Tehran and world powers concerned about its nuclear program, but Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said Iran would examine the allegations.
“We are prepared to examine any issue, even if fabricated, seriously and patiently, and we have called on America to submit to us any information in regard to this scenario,” he was quoted as saying by the official IRNA news agency.
Editing by Mark Heinrich