TEHRAN, Iran (AP) - Iran's supreme leader said Monday he would put on military fatigues and fight to the death if his country were attacked - unlike U.S. ``warmongers'' who he said cower in the rear far from the front lines.
President Bush has said The United States is not preparing to attack Iran, but no option is ruled out if Tehran does not abandon what Washington views as efforts to build a nuclear bomb. Iran insists its nuclear program is only to generate electricity.
In an apparent bid to boost morale in the face of U.S. pressure over the nuclear program, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei mocked Washington in a TV speech, saying its leaders keep to the rear in any confrontation.
``We are not warmongers like U.S. leaders. They are warmongers. They are after war, but we are men of sacrifice,'' Khamenei told a crowd of several thousand in the northeast city of Mashhad.
``The U.S. leaders - the president, vice president and other key leaders - were hiding up to three days after the Sept. 11 attacks,'' Khamenei said. ``We are not like that. If a bitter experience occurs for this nation, God forbid, or if it is tested, we will wear military uniforms at the front of the nation and prepare for sacrifice.''
His speech was interrupted by crowd chants of ``Death to America!'' and ``Oh, our leader, we are ready for sacrifice!''
Iran denies it seeks nuclear weapons and is currently negotiating with three European powers who have demanded that Iran give up its enrichment of uranium. Low levels of enriched uranium can be used for nuclear reactors, but high levels can be used for bombs.
The United States has said that unless Iran abandons enrichment, it should be referred to the U.N. Security Council, which could impose sanctions.