Ahmadinejad launches fresh tirade against US

The Iranian president says that Middle East nations will expel the United States from the region with a "kick in the butt."

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The Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said today that Middle East nations will expel the United States from the region with a "kick in the butt," as he launched a vitriolic tirade against Iran's arch-foes. "They have such nerve to threaten us and say all options are on the table. May the undertaker take you, your tables... away as you have dragged the world in mud," the hardliner was quoted as saying. "If you don't leave the region, you should know that soon the nations of the region will expel you with a kick in the butt," he said in some of his harshest anti-US comments in recent times.

The United States and Israel accuse Iran of seeking nuclear weapons and have never ruled out a military strike to curb Tehran's atomic programme, which Iran insists has only peaceful aims. The Iranian leader went on to cast fresh doubts on the September 11, 2001 terror attacks on the United States. "We have hundreds of unanswered questions about the September 11 incident to which they should respond, and we will not back down on this," Mr Ahmadinejad said in a speech marking the start of a housing project outside Tehran.

"If they claim 3,000 people were killed on September 11, they (the perpetrators) should be identified and executed. "We will even help in their arrest provided they present evidence, but will not accept whatever Bush and Obama say," he said referring to former US president George W Bush and his successor Barack Obama. "Even the Americans themselves do not accept these claims, let alone other nations."

Last month Mr Ahmadinejad sparked outrage in the United States and around the world when he accused the US government of involvement in the terror attacks in a speech before the UN General Assembly in New York. Mr Obama slammed the remarks as "hateful" and "offensive." Mr Ahmadinejad has already drawn international condemnation by repeatedly casting doubt on the Nazi Holocaust since coming to power in 2005.

Today he branded Iran's regional arch-foe Israel a "savage dog unleashed in the region." The interior minister, Mostafa Mohammad Najjar, meanwhile mocked the latest US sanctions imposed against eight Iranian officials including himself for alleged rights abuses during unrest after Mr Ahmadinejad won re-election in mid-2009. On Wednesday, Mr Obama ordered that any US assets held by the officials be frozen and that they be denied US visas.

"I have never had any assets in the United States. I have never intended to step on American soil," said Mr Najjar, who was defence minister during the election held in June 2009. He said the United States itself was "seriously entangled in contradictions when it comes to human rights." "This kind of naive action shows lack of balance in its foreign policy and its interference in internal affairs of others," Fars news agency quoted him as saying.

Parliament speaker Ali Larijani also criticised Washington's move to impose sanctions on Iranian officials, saying the measures were "pointless, cheap and childish." Yesterday, two other officials targeted by Mr Obama – welfare minister Sadeq Mahsouli and deputy police chief Ahmad Reza Radan – had also mocked the latest moves from Washington. The eight "share responsibility for the sustained and severe violation of human rights in Iran since the June 2009 disputed presidential election," the US treasury department said on Wednesday.

After Iran's contested 2009 presidential election, hundreds of thousands of opposition supporters defied a government ban and poured onto the streets of Tehran. Human rights groups have accused the government of suppressing the uprising through extra-judicial killings, rapes and torture.