Iran's Ahmadinejad and Venezuela's Chavez taunt US over 'big atomic bomb'
IRAN’S President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez joked about having "a big atomic bomb" and mocked US disapproval during a meeting between the two allies in Caracas.
Despite their geographical distance, the two countries have forged increasingly close ties, a lot of which is down to their shared anti-Americanism, although concrete projects have often lagged behind the rhetoric.
"One of the targets that Yankee imperialism has in its sights is Iran, which is why we are showing our solidarity," Chavez said during a joint press conference. "That hill will open up and a big atomic bomb will come out," he said of a hill next to his Miraflores Palace.
"When we meet, the devils go crazy," he said, mocking US warnings that Latin American nations should not help the Islamic Republic.
Ahmadinejad concurred: "Despite those arrogant people who do not wish us to be together, we will unite forever," he said.
The two men hugged, beamed, held hands and showered each other with praise. "President Chavez is the champion in the war on imperialism," Ahmadinejad said.
But the two countries signed only vague co-operation accords and Chavez gave few signals that Venezuela would seek to undercut toughened sanctions over Iran's nuclear programme by providing fuel or cash.
Meanwhile, the Iranian envoy to the UN nuclear watchdog said on Tuesday that Western expressions of alarm over uranium enrichment begun at a new underground plant in Iran are "politically motivated,"
"These reactions are exaggerated and politically motivated and have been made over previous years," Ali Asghar Soltanieh was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency.
He was commenting on Western reaction to the International Atomic Energy Agency's confirmation on Monday that Iran had begun enriching uranium to up to 20 per cent level in its new Fordo plant – a fortified bunker sunk into a mountain southwest of Tehran.
The United States said the activity was "a further escalation of their (the Iranians') ongoing violations with regard to their nuclear obligations," while Britain called it "provocative" and France said it was a "particularly grave violation by Iran of international law."