Financial crisis

Washington severed ties with Iran in 1980 - in the wake of its Islamic revolution - and George Bush, the current US president, famously denounced the country as part of an "axis of evil".

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Tensions have mounted recently over Iran's nuclear power programme. Many Western countries allege the programme is a cover to develop atomic weapons - a charge Tehran strongly denies.

Larijani also said the United States is now too busy dealing with a financial crisis to consider attacking Iran over the nuclear programme.

"The risk was low before," he said. "But now I am 100 per cent certain that the United States will not unleash a war against Iran.

"The economic crisis has cost the United States $1,400bn and Washington is working to resolve its internal problems and not a war."