CARACAS, Mar 22 (AP): Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said the US troops have been routed by a strong resistance movement in Iraq but haven't pulled out because officials in Washington won't acknowledge defeat.
The United States also would suffer a tremendous military defeat if the Bush administration decided to invade Iran, Chavez told a group of foreign diplomats and government supporters at Miraflores Presidential Palace.
"The US empire is defeated in Iraq. They just don't want to admit it," Chavez said Tuesday to a rousing applause.
Using a Venezuelan slur to refer to US President George W Bush, Chavez added, "Mr. Donkey thought they were going to be received as heroes."
"God forbid they dare to attack Iran," Chavez said. "We want peace, but they would eat twice as much of the dust of defeat there. I'm absolutely sure of that."
Chavez defended Iran's nuclear energy program earlier Tuesday, saying Washington's firm opposition to Tehran and the invasion of Iraq both resulted from America's insatiable thirst for oil.
"You know that one of the most serious problems the world has today is the energy problem, so much so that the North American empire has invaded Iraq just to look for oil and now threatens Iran because of oil," Chavez said in a nationally televised speech.
"It's an excuse by the empire, looking for energy."
Chavez claimed the Bush administration has falsely accused Iran of trying to build an atomic bomb as a pretext for seizing control of the Middle Eastern nation's vast petroleum reserves.
Twenty-seven of the 35 members of the International Atomic Energy Agency, a U.N. nuclear watchdog, voted in January to refer Iran to the Security Council over fears it aims to build an atomic bomb.
Venezuela, Cuba and Syria voted against it, and the rest abstained.