President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday ordered Iran's atomic chief to begin higher uranium enrichment, raising the stakes in a dispute with the West days after seeming to accept a UN-drafted proposal for a nuclear deal.
Ahmadinejad's declaration drew immediate fire from Britain, which said it was "clearly a matter of serious concern," while US Defence Secretary Robert Gates called for mounting "international pressure" on Iran.
Ahmadinejad in a speech at an exhibition on laser technology broadcast live on state television blamed world powers for the stalemate over the nuclear fuel deal, but left the door open for possible negotiation over the proposal.
"I had said let us give them (world powers) two to three months and if they don't agree, we would start ourselves," Ahmadinejad said.
Anyway, US could have had a deal, but now the stakes have been raised.
US can back up its bombastic rhetoric . . . or back down.