Ahead of UN speech, Iran's Ahmadinejad blasts would-be attackers

After denying the Holocaust again last week, Iran's president threatened to cut off the hands of any aggressors. Recent defiant rhetoric may indicate Tehran is worried about looming international talks on its nuclear program.

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Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday warned any would-be attacker that "we will cut off his hands," in blustering remarks that were a likely preview of his speech Wednesday at the United Nations.

Tehran has issued increasingly defiant statements in recent days, possibly reflecting the country's worries over stepped-up international action against its nuclear program.

Mr. Ahmadinejad repeated his denials of the Holocaust on last Friday, then basked in the ensuing criticism. In remarks on the Muslim holiday Eid al Fitr yesterday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei denounced Zionism, the Western powers and the foreign media.

Agence France-Presse reported that Ahmadinejad made the latest comments in a nationally televised address.

The Telegraph reported that Ahmadinejad on Friday "questioned whether the Holocaust was 'a real event' and called it a pretext used by Jews to trick the West into backing the creation of Israel."

Then, in response to criticism of those comments, he said, "The anger of the world's professional killers is [a source of] pride for us," the Telegraph wrote, citing a report from Iran's state news agency, IRNA.

On Sunday, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said that Zionism was “gnawing into the lives of the Islamic nations” and “spreading through the invading hands of the occupiers and arrogant powers," the Christian Science Monitor reported.

The Associated Press wrote that although such talk is nothing new, "it reflects Iranian concerns it could be targeted because of its nuclear facilities."

The US and other nations worry that Iran's nuclear program could give it the ability to build a nuclear arsenal, dramatically increasing the threat to Tehran's arch-foe Israel. Tehran insists its program is peaceful and fully within its sovereign rights. Talks on Iran's program are set to begin on Oct. 1.

In an interview aired on CNN on Sunday, Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said that Israel had assured him that it would not strike Iran's nuclear facilities. But on Monday, Israel insisted that all options for dealing with Iran remained "on the table", the AP reported.

In a Q&A Monday, Reuters called the question of a preemptive Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear facilities "a poker game with high stakes and a degree of bluff." The wire noted that there were precedents for such an attack that made it a credible possibility.

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