Iran promises harsh response to foreign attack

March 7, 2006 - 1:18AM

Iran vowed today to be a "killing field" for any attackers after the United States warned of "painful consequences" if it failed to curb its atomic plans.

US Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said yesterday his country had been "beefing up defensive measures" to thwart Iran's nuclear program, which the West suspects is a quest for atomic bombs, not just nuclear-generated electricity.

Gholamali Rashid, deputy head of the armed forces, said the United States did not understand to operate in the Gulf region.

"Iran's armed forces, through their experience of war ... will turn this land into a killing field for any enemy aggressors," the official IRNA news agency quoted him as saying.

UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei said he was hopeful a deal to defuse the nuclear dispute could be reached soon. He was speaking in Vienna just before delivering a report on Iran to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Iran has been already reported to the UN Security Council for failing to convince the world its scientists are working only on nuclear power stations and not on a covert weapons program.

Although the United States and Israel have said diplomacy is the best way forward, neither has ruled out military options.

Iran is planning to set some 3,000 research centrifuges running in the last quarter of 2006. Scientists say these could produce enough material for a warhead in one year.