Ahmadinejad's Latin America tour reaches Nicaragua

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrives in Caracas, Venezuela, on Sunday.

Story highlights

  • "Among all of you, we are at home, like brothers," the Iranian leader says
  • Ahmadinejad is in Nicaragua for Ortega's inauguration
  • In Venezuela, Chavez and the Iranian leader present a united front against the U.S.
  • Next, Ahmadinejad heads to Cuba and Ecuador
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived in Nicaragua on Tuesday, the second stop of his five-day tour of Latin America.
There, he will attend the inauguration of President Daniel Ortega, who cruised to a third term in November amid allegations of vote irregularities.
Shortly after his arrival, Ahmadinejad praised the Nicaraguan president as a "revolutionary leader" and said he was grateful to return to the Central American nation.
"Among all of you, we are at home, like brothers. I feel as if I were among Iranians," Ahmadinejad told reporters shortly after his arrival.
Venezuela was the first stop in Ahmadinejad's tour, which was not coincidental.
Despite their cultural differences, Venezuela and Iran have found significant common ground: Both are among the world's top crude oil exporters, and their leaders are strong allies united by a fierce opposition to what they describe as U.S. imperialism.
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On Monday, Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez sat side by side in front of a room full of reporters and presented a united front in their opposition to the United States.
"It's clear they are afraid of our development," Ahmadinejad said.
Chavez pledged to work with his Iranian counterpart to stop the "imperial insanity" of the United States, which he described as a "threat for the world."
The Venezuelan president mocked concerns from Washington about his country's relationship with Iran, joking that U.S. media reports made it sound as though he and Ahmadinejad would be launching missiles and bombs at the U.S. capital.
"We are not warmongers," Chavez said, as the Iranian president nodded in agreement. "Iran has not invaded anybody."
Ortega and the United States also have butted heads.
Along with being a Chavez ally, Ortega was a public supporter of former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi during the uprising there.
And in the 1980s, the United States backed the contra rebels in their fight against Ortega's Sandinista government.
Ahmadinejad's Latin American tour has grabbed global attention, as tensions grow between many Western powers and Iran over Tehran's nuclear program.
Officials in the United States and other Western nations have ratcheted up sanctions against Iran several times since a November report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said the Iranian government was developing the technology needed to build a nuclear weapon. Last month, U.S. President Barack Obama announced sanctions against Iran's central bank.
On Monday the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency confirmed that uranium enrichment up to 20% has begun at a nuclear facility in northern Iran.
Iran says there's a medical purpose behind the nuclear program.
But in Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Victoria Nuland said the confirmation that Iran has been enriching uranium to "a level that's inappropriate" is "obviously a problem."
After Nicaragua, Ahmadinejad heads to Cuba and Ecuador.