Accessibility links

Breaking News

Iran Would 'Cut Off Hands' Of Any Attacker, President Says

Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad (file photo)
TEHRAN -- Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has said that even before any enemies "get their hands on the trigger," his country's military will cut them off, media reported amid a growing war of words that has intensified Middle East tension.

But Ahmadinejad also suggested that Iran would consider any proposal by the United States for a U.S. interests section in the country, if it were forthcoming.

The two countries have not had diplomatic ties since 1980.

With mounting tensions over Iran's nuclear activities, U.S. media have reported that the State Department was considering opening an interests section that could mean some U.S. diplomats returning to Tehran but operating under another country's flag.

U.S. officials have said there are no concrete plans on such an idea. But Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki said this month at the United Nations in New York that any such proposal, if made, could be examined.

"Iran favours actions that would result in enhanced ties between nations of the world," Ahmadinejad said when asked about the issue, according to the website of state-run Press TV. "We are ready to consider all proposals in this regard."

The Swiss Embassy in Tehran currently handles U.S. interests in Iran, but there are no U.S. diplomats working there.

But Ahmadinejad also echoed comments by other Iranian officials and commanders that Iran's response to any attack over its disputed nuclear program would be quick.

"Before the enemies get their hands on the trigger, the armed forces will cut off their hands," the official IRNA news agency quoted Ahmadinejad as telling reporters.

The United States has refused to rule out military action if diplomacy fails to resolve the nuclear row. Washington says Tehran is seeking nuclear arms, a charge Iran denies, saying its aim is to generate electricity.

Israel, long assumed to have nuclear arms, has sworn to prevent Iran from attaining atomic weapons. An Israeli Air Force drill last month raised speculation it was planning an attack.

After Iran test-fired missiles last week, Ahmadinejad added, "In the event of necessity, additional parts of our defense capability will be put on display for the world to see."

As part of a new diplomatic effort to end the row, the United States and five other powers last month offered Iran economic and other benefits if it halts its most sensitive atomic activities, something Tehran says it will not do.

Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Said Jalili, is expected to meet EU foreign-policy chief Javier Solana in Geneva on July 19 for talks on the long-running dispute.

"The negotiations...must lead to the defining of the framework of the main negotiations," Foreign Minister Mottaki said, according to Iran's state broadcaster.

Ahmadinejad, who has previously called for a public debate with the U.S. president, expressed willingness to hold direct talks with George W. Bush.

The United States says Iran must suspend uranium enrichment, which can have both civilian and military uses, before they can sit down and talk about nuclear and other issues.

"As I have already said, we have absolutely no need for an intermediary in negotiations with others," Ahmadinejad said. "I am ready to hold direct negotiations with Mr. Bush."

However, he added, "if anyone should want to set conditions [for entering talks], it would be us."