JERUSALEM, Israel - Iran's supreme leader rejected a proposal from Vice President Joe Biden Thursday for direct talks on a range of topics, including the Islamic Republic's disputed nuclear program.
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told members of Iran's air force that bilateral talks with the United States would not solve any problems.
"You Americans have pointed guns toward Iran, but at the same time you want to negotiate. The Iranian nation will not be intimidated by these actions," an Iranian news agency quoted Khamenei.
His remarks come as new U.S. sanctions against Iran continue to be imposed, including new restrictions on payments for Iranian oil.
The Islamic Republic is expected to participate in nuclear talks with the U.N. Security Council and Germany later this month in Kazakhstan.
Experts say the ayatollah's remarks suggest Iran will stick to demands for relief from economic pressure before considering any nuclear concessions.
Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told an Egyptian newspaper this week that Iran is already a nuclear state, adding that his country has no plans to attack Israel.
His words may not be far from the truth.
Retired Israeli Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin from the Institute of National Security Studies said Iran has all it needs to build a nuclear bomb.
Yadlin said it would take Iran four to six months to enrich enough military grade uranium to build a bomb. So it's just waiting for the right time to break out.
"In the eye of the Iranians, four to six months are too long time and the situation in the world is not such that they think they can get away with it," Yadlin said. "They want the time of breakout to be much shorter, and they are waiting for international crisis that the attention will be moved from them."
Yadlin said the Iranians could cross the red line of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this year.
Netanyahu told lawmakers earlier this week that stopping Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapons will be the "supreme mission" of a new unity government.
"This is all the more complicated because Iran has equipped itself with new centrifuges that shorten the enrichment time," Netanyahu said. "We cannot countenance this process."