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Iran's Supreme Leader Threatens Retaliation If Attacked

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (file photo) (CTK) February 8, 2007 -- Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei says Iran will strike back at the United States if it is attacked.

State-run television quoted Khamenei today as saying he does not expect a move as "irrational" as an attack on Iran. But he warned that Iran would respond by striking back at U.S. interests worldwide.

The country's latest warning against a possible strike came as Iran test-fired a land-to-sea missile with a 350-kilometer range today.

Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps said the missiles are capable of sinking warships off Iran's coast.

Iran is locked in a standoff with the UN Security Council over its nuclear program, which it says is for peaceful purposes.

U.S. officials have stressed the desirability of a diplomatic solution to curb Iran's nuclear activities but have repeatedly said it is "unacceptable" for Iran to possess nuclear weapons.

A spokesman for the White House National Security Council, Gordon Johndroe, responded to Khamenei's statements today by saying the supreme leader, Iran's highest religious and political authority, "often makes these unprovoked statements." Johndroe said U.S. President George W. Bush "has made it clear we have no intention of going to war with Iran."

Neither U.S. nor Israeli officials have ruled out the possibility of military action to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.

Tensions have also risen in recent months as U.S. political and military leaders have accused Iran of backing militants in Iraq.

(AFP, AP, Reuters)

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