US vice president Dick Cheney has asserted that while the US will try to stop Iran's nuclear programme diplomatically, it has not ruled out military action.
Mr Cheney stressed that the White House policy was to strive for a non-military solution. "As we've said, we're doing everything we can to resolve it diplomatically, but we haven't taken any options off the table," he told ABC News.
Speaking at a press conference in Australia with the country's prime minister John Howard, the 66-year-old American insisted that a diplomatic process would be preferable: "We worked with the European community and the UN to put together a set of policies to persuade the Iranians to give up their aspirations and resolve the matter peacefully, and that is still our preference."
"I've also made the point, and the president has made the point, that all options are on the table," he added.
The Australian prime minister, John Howard, also expressed concern over Iran's nuclear development, a programme Iran says is purely for non-threatening energy production, affecting the conflict in neighbouring Iraq.
"I can't think of a country whose influence and potential clout would be more enhanced in that part of the world than Iran's could be if there were to be a coalition defeat in Iraq," he said.
Mr Cheney's comments come one day after Iran failed to meet an UN-imposed deadline to cease its nuclear development programme, which Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has repeatedly defended and refused to bring to a close