By Jeremy Herb - 11/08/12 07:00 PM EST
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Thursday that countries still stockpiling nuclear weapons were “mentally retarded.”
“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.
Ahmadinejad, the controversial Iranian figure whose term as president ends next year, said Iran had no need for nuclear weapons.
"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,” he said.
He also said that any government or agency was free to inspect Iran’s nuclear sites, according to Reuters — even though Tehran has blocked the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from accessing some sites.
The United States and European Union have imposed harsh sanctions this year over Iran’s nuclear program, which have had a big economic impact in Iran.
As he knocked the U.S. elections in his speech Thursday, Ahmadinejad also said Tehran was open to direct talks with the United States, according to Iranian state media.
President Obama’s reelection is viewed as an opportunity to restart negotiations with the Iranians and try and find a diplomatic solution before a military option is considered.
Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, while the United States and others say Iran is weighing whether to seek nuclear weapons.
Obama has said he will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, and no option is off the table to do so. At the same time, he has lobbied Israel to delay any strike on Iran to give time for negotiations and sanctions to work.
Iran agreed this year to restart negotiations with six world powers — the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany — over its nuclear program, although nothing substantive has emerged from the talks.
The talks are expected to pick up again in the next month or two.