Chavez, a vocal critic of imperialism, capitalist excess and the administration of US President George Bush, said he was not against the American people - just the current government.

"We are sure that it will be very difficult for the United States to attack Venezuela," Chavez said. He said his country has eight refineries and 14,000 petrol stations in the United States.

"If the United States tried to attack Venezuela by a direct invasion, forget the oil," he said in a two-hour news conference in Paris on Thursday beamed live to Venezuela. "Every day, we send 1.5 million barrels to the United States."

Oil prices

The barrel price of crude oil could hit $150 following a US attack, Chavez said. Currently New York light sweet crude oil trades at about $60 a barrel.

"That is why Pat Robertson, the spiritual adviser of Mr Bush, is calling for my assassination - that would be much cheaper than an invasion," he said. US religious broadcaster Robertson said in August that Chavez should be killed, then later apologised for saying so.

Mostly, the Venezuelan leader used his over two-hour long news conference to explain what he called his alternative vision of a world that works for the poor - not capitalist corporations seeking profits.

Chavez reiterated longtime claims that the US was financing his opponents, seeking his removal and sabotaging efforts to move the country forward.

Expanded military reserve

"Venezuela is used to defending itself ... and fighting imperialism," Chavez said, speaking in Spanish with a French translator. "We are ready to resist any attack, but we pray to God and do our utmost so that this does not ever happen."

"We must be ready for an aggression," he said. Chavez has previously said Venezuela is organising an expanded military reserve and civilian defence units to defend his country.

"We have detected with intelligence reports plans of a supposed invasion, one that would never happen. But we have to denounce it"

Hugo Chavez,
Venezuelan president

In an interview with BBC radio aired earlier on Thursday, Chavez said he had evidence to prove that the US government was planning an invasion.

"We have detected with intelligence reports plans of a
supposed invasion, one that would never happen. But we have to denounce it," Chavez told the BBC.

Chavez said he believed the reason the US was plotting an invasion of petroleum-rich Venezuela was to take control of the country's oil reserves. US officials have denied that.

"A coup happened in Venezuela that was prepared by the US What do they want? Our oil, as they did in Iraq," he said, referring to a failed coup attempt in April 2002, which he holds the United States responsible for. The US administration denies the claim.