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Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is shown on Sunday before leaving Tehran for New York to attend the UN General Assembly. ((Vahid Salemi/Associated Press))

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a U.S. current affairs program Sunday that his country is not headed for war with the United States.

He is in Manhattan ahead of a Tuesday speech that he'll giveto the United Nations General Assembly.

Inan interview with CBS's 60 Minutes, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denied that the tensions between Iran and the United States mean they're headed for a conflict.

"It's wrong to think that Iran and the U.S. are walking toward war," Ahmadinejad said in the interview. "Who says so? Why should we go to war? There is no war in the offing."

The Iranian leader also said that his country doesn't neednuclear weapons, something the U.S. government accuses Iran of seeking to develop under the cover of its civil nuclear program.

"In political relations right now, the nuclear bomb is of no use," he said. "If it was useful, it would have prevented the downfall of the Soviet Union. If it was useful, it would resolved the problem the Americans have in Iraq. The time of the bomb is passed."

Ahmadinejad'svisit to the UN's headquarters in New York City — his third in three years — has attracted criticism from people who argue that he shouldn't be allowed into the U.S.

Citing construction and security concerns,New York City Police have already denied him a visit to Ground Zero where the Sept. 11 attacks occurred. Ahmadinejad told 60 Minutes that he wanted to pay his respects by laying a wreath at the site, but that he wouldn't press the issue if he's not permitted. Critics said the proposal was insulting to Americans.

Critics have also protested plans for him to speak on Monday at Columbia University, arguing that the school should not give a platform to a Holocaust denier. Last year, the university cancelled a planned visit byAhmadinejad, citing security and logistical reasons.

With files from the Associated Press