Malaysia's Mahathir accuses U.S.

Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday accused the U.S. of scheming to invade Iran and Syria, and said the Iranian president's recent statements against Israel are providing Washington the excuse. Opening a three-day global peace forum in Kuala Lumpur, Mahathir charged that the U.S. Congress has "prepared legal authority for aggression against other countries" through laws allowing it to meddle into other nations' affairs using democracy as a pretext. The Iran Freedom and Support Act of 2005, which "holds the current regime in Iran accountable for its threatening behavior and to support a transition to democracy in Iran", carries a subtle threat of war and "sounds like blackmail," he said.

"Democracy, human rights, possession of WMD (weapons of mass destruction) are convenient excuses for war and killing," said Mahathir, an outspoken critic of the West who described the U.S. as a "mass murderer" for its invasion of Iraq.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's threat to remove Israel from the map of the world has provided "additional grounds for aggression," Mahathir said. Ahmadinejad drew further international condemnation on Wednesday when he said the Nazi Holocaust was a "myth" used to carve out a Jewish state in the heart of the Muslim world.

His comments came amid U.S.-backed negotiations between Iran and Europe seeking a compromise on Tehran's nuclear program. Washington says Iran secretly aims to build nuclear warheads but Iran insists its nuclear intentions are peaceful, aiming only to produce electricity, and has refused to give up key parts of the program. Mahathir warned of a possible nuclear war as superpowers have already built huge arsenals of nuclear weapons.

"The warlike nations are not going to stop warring," he said. "One day, one of them may press the button and ... then we would have a full-scale nuclear war destroying the whole world and its inhabitants,” reports the AP. I.L.

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