During a meeting in Indonesia, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejiad said that the era of nuclear deterrence “is over,” and nations that stockpile nuclear weapons are “mentally retarded.”
He also reiterated his long-running stance that Iran does not possess nuclear weapons, nor does it seek to build one, as the nation does not need atomic weapons to defend itself.
"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 said during a democracy forum in Bali, Indonesia.
The Iranian president added that any government or agency was free to inspect Iran’s nuclear sites. That statement contradicts Tehran’s recent policy of preventing International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) observers from accessing some of its nuclear sites.
The US and its allies have long accused Iran of using its nuclear facilities as a cover for developing atomic weapons, a claim which Tehran has repeatedly denied.
The subject has been an ongoing source of tension between Iran and countries that remain skeptical of its nuclear ambitions – the US and Israel being the most vocal critics.
Israel has hinted at taking military action against Iran’s program for some time. Last week, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that the country and its allies will have to make a decision on military action against Iran in “eight to ten months.”
In September, General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, a senior commander in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, warned that Tehran would strike US bases in the region if Israel attacked Iran.
“We will enter a confrontation with both parties and will definitely be at war with American bases should a war break out," he told Al-Alam TV.
The US has publicly maintained its preference for a diplomatic solution to the tensions, and has imposed multiple rounds of economic sanctions against Iran in the hopes of forcing Tehran to end its nuclear program.