Iran on Tuesday dismissed a report that US commandos were carrying out secret missions inside the country and lashed out at US policy in Iraq.

Ali Agha-Mohammadi, head of the propaganda committee of the Supreme National Security Council, said a report in the New Yorker magazine that claimed the US had started to identify alleged hidden nuclear sites inside Iran as potential targets in its war against terror, was part of a campaign of “psychological warfare”.

“The entry of American commandos for espionage is not that easy. It would be naive to believe it,” he told Iran's state radio.

Another senior Iranian official who asked not to be named saw the article as a US reaction to the talks that had been taking place this month between Iran and the EU 3– Britain, Germany and France on curbing Iran's nuclear ambitions.

“Americans now leak such stories to adversely affect Iran-EU talks which are progressing now. This is to exert more pressure on Iran and to imply that they are pursuing their own methods. It is part of their carrot and stick policy,” the official told the Financial Times.

The US administration has accused Iran of seeking weapons of mass destruction and interfering in neigh-bouring Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, on Tuesday lashed out at the US over its policy on Iraq, saying Washington would not tolerate a democratic outcome to the elections inIraq.

In a message to Muslim pilgrims in Mecca, Mr Khamenei said there were two threats to the Iraqi elections: “First, rigging the votes, in which Americans are experts.”

But in the event of the “politically-minded and educated youth” of Iraq managing to prevent the vote-rigging, the second threat was “a military coup andthe imposition of another dictator”.

In a sign there would be no let-up in Washington's hostile rhetoric towards Iran, Condoleezza Rice, nominated as secretary of state, on Tuesday included Iran in a list of six countries she described as “outposts of tyranny”.

“We cannot rest until every person living in a fear society has finally won their freedom,” she told the Senate foreign relations committee in her prepared statement.

“In the Middle East, President Bush has broken with six decades of excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in hoping to purchase stability at the price of liberty.

“The stakes could not be higher. As long as the broader Middle East remains a region of tyranny and despair and anger, it will produce extremists and movements that threaten the safety of America and our friends.”

But, in a speech that laid the emphasis on diplomatic rather than military solutions in the second Bush administration, Ms Rice stressed the importance of working with allies in insisting that Iran and North Korea abandon their nuclear weapons.

Get alerts on World when a new story is published

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2019. All rights reserved.

Comments have not been enabled for this article.

Follow the topics in this article