Rumsfeld is now criticizing Iran. This is the same exact thing the leaders of the US did before we invaded Iraq....the ball is starting to roll.
MUNICH, Feb 4 (Reuters) - U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld accused Iran on Saturday of being the world's leading sponsor of terrorism, a charge that his Iranian counterpart rejected as "ridiculous" and "outrageous".
"The Iranian regime is today the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism," Rumsfeld told an annual security conference in Munich where talk of Iran's nuclear programme was at the top of the agenda.
"The world does not want, and must work together to prevent, a nuclear Iran," he said.
Rumsfeld spoke just before the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog decided to report Iran, which Washington and the European Union fear is covertly developing atomic weapons, to the U.N. Security Council. Tehran says its nuclear programme is peaceful.
"We must continue to work together to seek a diplomatic solution to stopping the development of (Iran's) uranium enrichment programme," Rumsfeld said.
Enrichment can make fuel for atomic power plants or weapons.
"While we oppose the actions of Iran's regime, we stand with the Iranian people who want a peaceful democratic future. They have no desire to see the country they love isolated from the rest of the civilised world," he said.
Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar was quoted by Iranian state television as saying Rumsfeld's comments were "outrageous remarks and a ridiculous projection by the White House leaders."
"Rumsfeld had better try to act responsibly for the disgrace of attacking Afghanistan and Iraq, because the people of the world will never forget the torturing of the prisoners of Abu-Ghraib," he said.
IRAQ IS THE "CENTRAL FRONT"
Although he labelled the Islamic republic of Iran as the main sponsor of terrorism, Rumsfeld said Islamic terrorists had made Iraq the "central front in their war against the civilised world."
Rumsfeld said they were using Iraq as a training and recruiting ground, in the same way as they operated in Afghanistan when the Taliban were in charge.
But he vehemently rejected any suggestion that Iraq had been a catalyst for a global wave of terrorist acts.
"Any argument that Iraq might have been a trigger is inconsistent with the facts," he said, listing a number of terrorist acts that took place even before Sept. 11, 2001.
In addition to the Sept. 11 attacks, which are believed to have been carried out by al Qaeda, Rumsfeld named other attacks which he said Islamic terrorists had masterminded. He mentioned the massacre of schoolchildren in Beslan, Russia and bombings in Britain, Spain, Egypt, Israel and elsewhere.
Rumsfeld said that the world needed to prepare itself for a long fight against Islamic terrorists who he said wanted to set up a global Islamic empire.
"They have designed and distributed a map where national borders are erased and replaced by a global extremist Islamic empire," he said. "As during the Cold War, the struggle ahead promises to be a long war."
Washington and its allies were doing everything possible to ensure that terrorists did not get hold of weapons of mass destruction, which he described as a nightmare scenario.
"The world would change overnight if a handful of terrorists managed to obtain and launch a chemical, biological, or radiological weapon," he said.
(Additional reporting by Alireza Ronaghi in Tehran)