Nicaraguan president says N.Korea, Iran have right to nuclear weapons

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Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega on Thursday ardently defended the right of Iran and North Korea to develop nuclear weapons, saying the United States holds no authority to turn them back.

Ortega made the remarks upon receiving Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

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“We don’t love atomic bombs... but what authority (do Western powers have) to want to prohibit Iran if it wants to make atomic bombs?” Ortega asked with the Iranian minister by his side.

He added that North Korea has the same sovereign right no matter how the United States or its allies feel about it.

Western powers “don’t have the right to dictate who has and who doesn’t have atomic bombs,” Ortega said, adding that he personally would like “all atomic bombs to disappear, starting with the ones of the Yankees.”

Amir-Abdollahian thanked Ortega for his statement and said Tehran’s nuclear program has only peaceful aims -- an assertion disputed by the United States and other Western allies who signed an accord with Iran in 2015 to dismantle much of its nuclear program.

The United States withdrew from the Iran accord in 2018.

Earlier in the day, the Iranian foreign minister told Nicaragua’s National Assembly that Iran and Nicaragua “have a lot in common, many similarities.”

The countries, which are both subject to US sanctions, signed a memorandum of understanding on Wednesday evening for greater cooperation.

Amir-Abdollahian, who began his visit on Wednesday, will next head to Venezuela, according to Iran’s Foreign Ministry.

Amir-Abdollahian said Ortega and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi have committed to taking steps to implement a bilateral agreement signed at the end of 2022.

In December, Amir-Abdollahian and Nicaragua Foreign Minister Denis Moncada inked an agreement in Tehran that included energy issues, although no details were shared.

On Wednesday evening, the two countries additionally signed a memorandum of understanding “for cultural, scientific, health cooperation, cooperation also in the political field and cooperation in all spheres of common good,” said Nicaraguan Vice President Rosario Murillo, who is also Ortega’s wife.

Iran also maintains strong ties with Venezuela and Cuba, which are likewise subject to US-led international sanctions and have been widely criticized for their authoritarian regimes.

An increasingly authoritarian president, Ortega has clamped down on human rights organizations in his country and the Catholic Church, which he accused of supporting 2018 anti-government protests.

The leader however offered support Thursday to ongoing mass protests in Peru, saying that ousted president Pedro Castillo should be freed from prison and reinstated.

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