Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad predicted the impending downfall of the "US empire," blaming the collapse on a combination of the country's massive debt and its loss of legitimacy within the international community, Iran's official news agency IRNA reported Thursday.

“How long can a government with a $16 trillion foreign debt remain a world power?” he asked at a press conference with Kuwaiti media personnel. "The Americans have injected their paper wealth into the world economy and today the aftermaths and negative effects of their pseudo-wealth have plagued them.”

He added: “An empire, or a government, remains in power so long as the people under its power support it, but today the Americans have acted in a way that the world nations do not like them at all, and therefore, their international legitimacy is annihilated.”

Ahmadinejad also predicted that the West would soon drop their alliance with the "Zionist regime," saying that Westerners and US politicians are increasingly "at a loss" as to why Israel exists.

Downplaying the effect of Western sanctions on the Iranian economy, Ahmadinejad said that the Islamic Republic would persevere. "The hegemonic powers have no way [forward], but to change the conditions.” Earlier this month, riots broke out in Tehran in protest of the collapse of the rial currency, which has lost some two-thirds of its value against the dollar in the past 15 months, stoking inflation that is now running at around 25 percent.

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Despite his country's reeling economy, Ahmadinejad questioned who was really suffering under the sanctions. "These sanctions are in fact imposed against the European countries," he charged. "It has now been five years that they have imposed sanctions against Iran, but the question is, which one is experiencing tougher economic conditions, the EU, or the Islamic Republic?”

Earlier this week, the EU agreed to impose further sanctions against Iran's banking, shipping, and industrial sectors, cranking up financial pressure on Tehran in the hope of drawing it into serious negotiations on its nuclear program.

Turning to his country's illicit nuclear program, Ahmadinejad termed Western pressure as "boring," and expressed that his country would proceed in its drive for a peacefully nuclear program. “Due to the political approach of the world oppressor powers, the Iranian nuclear issue has become a boring issue. Today everyone knows that the westerners are basically opposed to the advancement of the Iranian nation and even if the nuclear issue would be solved they would resort to another pretext, such as Iran’s manufacturing of satellites, or even production of medicines, or becoming a space power, to interfere in our internal affairs.”

Addressing increasing speculation that the Persian Gulf could become a flashpoint for violence between the West and Iran, Ahmadinejad said his country would respond to any threats posed against it. “I do not think such a war would occur, because we all contribute to the establishment of security in this region, but at any rate when the United States make some threats, Iran, too, responses to them. Everyone knows that it is not possible to urge the Iranian nation to retreat resorting to war threat.”

Reuters contributed to this report

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