Ahmadinejad: Stockpiling nuclear arms ‘retarded’

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said the age of nuclear deterrence was long gone and any country still stockpiling nuclear weapons was “mentally retarded”.

He again denied Iran was trying to develop nuclear weapons, a day after the re-election victory of US President Barack Obama, for whom Tehran’s disputed nuclear programme will be one of the thornier foreign policy issues of his second term.

“The period and era of using nuclear weapons is over... Nuclear bombs are not anymore helpful and those who are stockpiling nuclear weapons, politically they are backward, and they are mentally retarded,” Ahmadinejad told reporters at a forum to promote democracy on the Indonesian island of Bali.

“The Iranian nation is not seeking an atomic bomb, nor do they need to build an atomic bomb... For defending ourselves we do not need a nuclear weapon.

Ahmadinejad added that representatives of any government or agency could visit the Islamic Republic to verify that it was not developing nuclear weapons.

Iran says it is enriching uranium only for peaceful energy purposes but it restricts access for UN nuclear inspectors and concealed some sensitive sites from them in the past.

The hardline conservative president said he was open to talks with Obama on forging peace around the world and called for the dismantling of all US military bases abroad.

Obama’s re-election may open an opportunity for new negotiations with Iran on agreeing constraints to its nuclear programme, with sanctions piling economic pressure on its theocratic leaders.

Ahmadinejad dismissed the US election as a “battleground for the capitalists”.

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