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Ahmadinejad, Chavez taunt US from Caracas

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Ariana Cubillos/AP

(Read caption) Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (l.) is received by Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez at the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Monday. The two leaders, known for making inflammatory comments to provoke the US, joked yesterday about the possibility of Iranian nuclear weapons.

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, two leaders known for making inflammatory comments to provoke the United States, joked yesterday about having a nuclear weapon at their disposal.

The atomic bomb comments, while in jest, are particularly striking because they come amid elevated tensions between the US and Iran. Last month, the US approved stricter sanctions on Iran following an IAEA report showing that Iran had pursued work related to nuclear weapons design. More sanctions are expected in January from the European Union. Iran has threatened to shut down a waterway critical to western oil supply. 

Mr. Ahmadinejad is visiting four Latin American countries this week to strengthen ties with its allies in the region after tougher US sanctions on Iran were announced on Dec. 31, The Associate Press reports. During his first stop in Venezuela yesterday, Ahmadinejad laughed alongside Mr. Chavez as he said a hill in front of the presidential palace would open to expose a nuclear weapon.

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