The Iranian leadership on Sunday vowed to go on with nuclear program in defiance of the West's threat to impose more sanctions, saying that the Islamic Republic is ready for both talks and possible military attacks by the United States.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad compared Iran's nuclear program to a "train with no brakes," underlining that Tehran will not rein in its nuclear track.
"We have got the nuclear fuel cycle technology. Iran's onward march on this path is just like a train on a one-way track with no room for stopping, reverse gear or braking," the president told a group of religious leaders.
"We have abandoned the reverse gear and the brakes of the train," he added.
Meanwhile, Ahmadinejad said that the West felt threatened by Iran's nuclear program because they were afraid of their power diminishing.
"The Westerners are not concerned about the existence of our nuclear activities; they are concerned about the collapse of their hegemony and hollow power," he said.
In response to Ahmadinejad's remarks, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Sunday that "they don't need a reverse gear. They need a stop button."
Rice told Fox News that "Tehran should stop enriching and reprocessing (work), and then we can sit down and talk about whatever is on Iran's mind."
The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1737 on Dec. 23, 2006, demanding that Iran stop all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities including research and development and work on all heavy water-related projects in 60 days.
Iran refused to heed the demand. The deadline expired on Wednesday.
Ahmadinejad's comments came one day before representatives of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- Britain, the United States, France, China and Russia -- plus Germany are scheduled to meet in London to discuss further measures against Tehran's tough stance.
Accusing Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons and assisting Iraqi insurgents in fight against coalition forces in the war-torn country, US Vice President Dick Cheney, during his visit to Australia on Saturday, refused to rule out the possibility of taking military action against Iran, saying that "all options are still on the table" over Tehran's nuclear programs.
Cheney said that Washington was still working with other countries to persuade Tehran to abandon its nuclear programs and preferred to achieve the goal peacefully.
"But all options are still on the table," Cheney said, adding that it is still being debated at home how to move next to deal with Tehran over the nuclear issue.
However, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki has responded by saying that "we do not see the US in a position to impose another crisis on its tax payers inside America by starting another war in the region."
Likewise, Deputy Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mohammadi told media that his country was prepared for both war and talks with the United States.
"We have prepared ourselves for any situation, even if war happens," he was quoted by the ISNA news agency as saying.
"Iran is ready for negotiations without preconditions with the United States, but the Americans have not accepted it yet," he added.
However, former Iranian President Seyed Mohammad Khatami, in a meeting with a group of Christian activists and priests from the United States on Sunday, described both Iranians and Americans as two wise nations, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.
He expressed hope that Iran's nuclear issue would be followed and settled through thoughtful measures, and no fresh crisis would arise in the region, saying that any kind of crisis would be detrimental to the region, Iran and the United States.
"Negotiation requires good intention and not preconditions, the US administration should, similar to the American nation, act courageously and wisely to find solutions to problems," he said.
(Xinhua News Agency February 26, 2007)