New Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi denied on Saturday that the Islamic Republic was striving to acquire nuclear weapons, and said that construction of such weapons was against the principals of Islam, the AFP news agency reported. "We regard production of weapons of mass destruction as contrary to our religious, human and national principles," the Fars news agency quoted Vahidi as saying. "Manufacturing nuclear weapons is not, and has never been, on our agenda." According to a report by Iran's ISNA news agency, Vahidi accused the US of seeking to exert its will over countries in the region through "deterrent strategy." Vahidi also referred to comments made by US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who last week called on US allies in the Middle East to strengthen their respective militaries to deter Iran from continuing its suspected nuclear weapons program. "Since the first discussions on Iran's nuclear issue, the US made wrong judgments based on false information, devised a wrong strategy and tried to suggest it to regional countries and Iran's neighbors," Vahidi said. "Through the measure, the US authorities will both plunder reserves of regional countries and put the interests of American people at risk in long-term." "We advise US authorities not to try to militarize the region and make up for their past failures through a shift in their wrong strategy," he added.