Petraeus: Ahmadinejad Best U.S. Recruiter in Gulf

Sunday, 06 Dec 2009 11:51 AM

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Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is driving worried Gulf countries into US arms with his threats to expand Tehran's suspect nuclear program, the top American general in the region said Sunday.

"President Ahmadinejad and the Irani (Iranian) leaders continue to be the best recruiters for Central Command as we embark on our partnership plans," General David Petraeus said on Fox News.

"They've caused enormous worry and concern by those on the western side of the Gulf," said Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command.

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He also said most experts question Iran's ability to build 10 more uranium enrichment plants -- "or anything remotely approaching that" -- as the Iranian leader threatened last week.

Ahmadinejad issued the threat after the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN's nuclear watchdog, censured it for building a second undeclared uranium enrichment plant, which the United States fears is aimed at producing fissile material for nuclear weapons.

Ahmadinejad, spurning a Western offer for foreign countries to enrich its uranium for a research nuclear reactor in Tehran, has gone on to vow that Iran would enrich its uranium stockpile to 20 percent on its own.

James Jones, the US national security adviser, said in an interview on CNN, meanwhile, that the "clock is ticking" on a US offer to engage Iran in negotiations.

"The door is still open. But unfortunately the picture Iran is painting is not a good one. But we are still open to negotiations," he said, calling the Western proposal on uranium enrichment "fair, very reasonable."

Copyright 2009 AFP. All rights reserved.

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