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Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran President, Says Country Doesn't Fear Bombs, Warships

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MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD IRAN
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad waits for the arrival of Iraqi Shiite Vice President Khudayr al-Khuzaie prior to a meeting in Tehran on March 10, 2012. (ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images) | Getty File


By Marcus George

DUBAI, March 11 (Reuters) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has launched a fresh tirade against the West, saying the Islamic Republic does not fear military action, Iranian media reported on Sunday.

"The Iranian nation doesn't fear your bombs and warships and planes. Such weapons are worth nothing," the Fars News Agency quoted him as saying on a visit to the town of Karaj, to the west of Tehran.

"You say to Iran all options are on the table. Leave them there until they rot. The time of arrogance and colonialism has passed, and the era of your unreasonableness passes too."

On Tuesday, the P5+1 group of countries comprising the United States, the UK, France, Russia, China and Germany accepted an offer from Tehran for fresh talks on its nuclear programme.

The West has imposed tough sanctions to try to force Iran to open up its nuclear activities to international scrutiny amid suspicions it is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons. Iran has denied any military development work but has not given international inspectors access to suspicious sites.

With little diplomatic progress despite numerous rounds of talks, Washington has refused to rule out military action and senior Israeli politicians have spoken of the possibility of air strikes.

President Barack Obama played down talk of war last week, however, saying there was a diplomatic "window of opportunity" and it was in everyone's interest for a peaceful solution to be found.

His words were met with rare praise from Iran's most powerful authority, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Ahmadinejad is set to appear before parliament, the Majlis, on Thursday, Fars News reported on Sunday, after being summoned last month to face questions about his handling of the economy.

He has been severely criticised for implementing reforms towards the end of 2010 that withdrew generous subsidies for food and energy.

The reforms, combined with tightening sanctions, have fuelled rampant inflation - officially around 21 percent but believed to be nearer 50 percent - and a collapse in the value of the Iranian currency, the Rial. (Reporting By Marcus George; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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