Iran on Saturday condemned remarks by U.S. presidential candidate John McCain who said one way of killing Iranians was to export cigarettes to Iran, the country's official news agency IRNA reported.

"We condemn such remarks as ugly and immoral, especially for someone who intends to lead a country claiming civilization," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad-Ali Husseini said.

McCain last Wednesday joked with reporters about sending Iranians cigarettes. "That's a way of killing them," McCain told a journalist who asked him about reports that U.S. exports, especially cigarettes, to Iran increased tenfold during the current administration of President George W. Bush.

As others around him laughed uncomfortably and his wife Cindy poked him in the back, McCain quickly said: "I meant that as a joke ... as a person who hasn't had a cigarette in 28 years."

Early in his campaign, 71-year-old McCain also "joked" about "bombing Iran" to the tune of the Beach Boys' song "Barbara Ann."

Without officially admitting it, observers say Iran clearly favors Democratic candidate Barack Obama as next U.S. president, especially as he has several times spoken in favor of resuming diplomatic talks with Iran.

Another reason for favoring Obama is his middle name Hussein, which is also the name of the third Shiite Imam who is highly respected in Iran.