Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad started his four-nation Latin American tour Sunday with a pit stop in Venezuela for a pow-wow with his ally, President Hugo Chavez, who defended his counterpart by saying Iran is facing U.S. warmongering threats amid tensions over its nuclear program.
United by their anti-Americanism rhetoric, they heaped on the praise for the other, mocked U.S. disapproval and joked about having an atomic bomb at their disposal, Reuters reported.
One of the targets that Yankee imperialism has in its sights is Iran, which is why we are showing that solidary, Chavez said during a joint Monday press conference. When we meet, the devils go crazy. They accuse us of being warmongers. They're the threat.
In a nod of agreement, Ahmadinejad said: Despite those arrogant people who do not wish us to be together, we will unite forever.
Tensions have been on the rise after the United States imposed even tougher sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program, which Washington believes is being used to develop atomic weapons. Iran -- backed by Chavez and his allies -- maintain that its nuclear program is simply for peaceful purposes.
Compounding those tensions is a stiff warning from Iran that it would retaliate by closing the Strait of Hormuz, the most vital corridor for oil tanker traffic in the world, if Western nations apply sanctions on Iranian oil exports.
Ahmadinejad dismissed the accusations about Iran's nuclear program in general terms, The Associated Press reported.
They say we're making (a) bomb, the Iranian leader said through an interpreter. Fortunately, the majority of Latin American countries are alert. Everyone knows that those words ... are a joke. It's something to laugh at. It's clear they're afraid of our development.
Both leaders plan to travel to Nicaragua on Tuesday for the inauguration of newly re-elected President Daniel Ortega, and then Ahmadinejad will also visit Cuba and Ecuador.
Adding more fuel to the fire between Iran and the U.S., Iranian state radio reported Monday that a court in Iran convicted dual U.S.-Iranian citizen Amir Mirzaei Hekmati of working for the CIA and sentenced the former Marine to death.
But neither Chavez nor Ahmadinejad referred to the case. Instead, they constantly referred to each other, saying their relations shouldn't be any cause for concern, the AP wrote.
Ahmadinejad said if they were together building anything like a bomb, the fuel of that bomb is love. Chavez countered, saying Iran has been helping manufacture an atomic bicycle plant in the country.
Bicycles aside, the two countries recently signed two accords promoting industrial cooperation and worker training.
We will always be together, Ahmadinehad said, smiling as he put his hand on Chavez's arm and calling the Venezuelan president the champion of fighting against imperialism.