On top of that, Iran gave $50+ million to the terrorist group Hamas...LONDON, April 17 (IranMania) - Tehran appears convinced it can deter or even win a military confrontation with the United States, with Iran buoyed by high oil prices, support from militants across the region and American woes in Iraq, AFP reported.
The regime gave fresh signals on Sunday that it was in no mood for a compromise over its nuclear programme as it continued to flout a UN Security Council demand for a freeze in uranium enrichment by April 28.
And in another display of defiance, a hardline Iranian group said it had managed to enroll 55,000 people for suicide attacks against Israel and Western powers.
Pope Benedict XVI also weighed into the dispute, using his Easter message to voice the need "serious and honest" talks which would help achieve "an honourable solution" for all parties.
"We are trying to find a diplomatic solution for our (nuclear) problem, and the United States should be aware that it is not in a position to create another crisis in the region," Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told the official news agency IRNA.
"More than three years have passed since the United States invaded Iraq and after all these years they are now asking for help," he said, referring to Washington's request for talks with Tehran on the insurgency.
The crisis over Iran's nuclear ambitions has worsened over the past week following the regime's announcement that its scientists managed to enrich uranium to the level needed to make reactor fuel.
Iran insists its programme is strictly peaceful, but enrichment technology can also be extended to make atomic weapons, hence the UN demand for a moratorium while an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) probe continues.
And the Institute for Science and International Security, a Washington-based think tank, said satellite images showed Iran has expanded and reinforced its main nuclear fuel processing facilities in Isfahan and Natanz, possibly to prepare them for a military strike.
Washington is now pushing for tough UN action, with several US press reports saying that military options to deal with the oil-rich regime were being looked into.
"You can start a war but it won't be you who finishes it," General Yahya Rahim Safavi, the head of the Revolutionary Guards and among the regime's most powerful figures, said on Friday in one of Iran's boldest statements yet.
He also pointed out that US troops in Iraq and the region were "vulnerable", while other regime figures stepped up their vitriolic anti-Western rhetoric.
"The 'Zionist' regime is an injustice and by its very nature a permanent threat," firebrand President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a pro-Palestinian conference, also voicing "serious doubts" over the Holocaust and predicting the "elimination" of the Jewish state.
Palestinian militant leaders, in Tehran to attend the conference, have also rallied behind Tehran, strengthening Iran's hand in the stand-off.
Hamas supremo Khaled Meshaal vowed the new Palestinian government will not recognise Israel regardless of mounting international pressure to do so, sticking with the tough position supported by Iran.
Islamic Jihad chief Abdullah Ramadan Shala also joined a previous pledge by Hamas and renegade Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr by vowing his Palestinian militant group was firmly siding with Iran, AFP stated.
IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei was in Tehran on Thursday to push for an enrichment suspension, but went home empty-handed.
China's assistant foreign minister Cui Tiankai has also met Iran's Supreme National Security Council chief Ali Larijani as well as nuclear negotiator Javad Vaidi, state television said.
China had also announced that representatives of the five permanent Security Council members plus Germany would meet Tuesday in Moscow to discuss the crisis, AFP noted.
But Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Aliasghar Soltanieh, signalled no concessions were on the horizon.
"The IAEA secretary and inspectors get into too many details," he complained in an interview with state television. "The information and the issues brought up during inspections make trouble.
"The agency has to be cautious now that such claims (of secret nuclear weapons work) have proved unfounded," he said, telling the IAEA "not to request inspections" of sensitive military sites.
It seems that it will end up a military conflict and a much more brutal one than Iraq...