home Latin America, non-proliferation, Venezuela, Western Hemisphere Venezuelan Officials Keep Hinting Nuclear Ambitions, with Iranian Assistance

Venezuelan Officials Keep Hinting Nuclear Ambitions, with Iranian Assistance

Last week two South American countries announced that they planned to build the region’s first nuclear-powered submarines.  It is not really clear why developing countries such as Brazil and Argentina would need such a device in peaceful South American waters, then nothing is ever really transparent with these two nuclear powers.   Fortunately build what they will, U.S. naval superiority can deal with any of it.   Yet, it is the mini-nuclear device that will power the iron men that should concern us.

It is not as if Argentine and Brazilian nuclear and propulsion programs were not sufficient to keep watchers guessing, the Left’s Don Quixote of the Americas and his ministers continue to talk about firing up a nuclear program of their own.  Rich with generous amounts of uranium, Venezuela has been publicly toying with going nuclear for several years.  

This past week, a member of the National Assembly and Venezuela’s Mining Commission,  Mr. Abel El Zabayar, was in Iran attending a conference “Developments in Latin America: Its Role and Status in the Future International System.”  Who says that the non-aligned movement is dead?  In addition to El Zabayar, there were parlamentarians present from state sponsor of terror Cuba, Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay, and Russia. 

As far as Venezuela and nuclear power, El Zabayar says that Iran will “practically give away” its civilian nuclear technology to assist developing countries.  El Zabayar also said that in “the next few years, countries that possess civilian nuclear technology, will be among the future great powers … if relations with Iran lead to sharing nuclear technology with us [Venezuela] we would then give it away to our brothers in Latin America once we are successful.” 

El Zabayar said that Venezuela has started to take the first steps in starting a civilian nuclear program and that bilateral discussions are underway for cooperation in the field with Iran and Belarus.  He also compared the Venezuelan process to what China and India will become, the “great powers of the world within twenty five years.”

Inspection efforts by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have been frustrated by regional nuclear powers.  Chatter about building nuclear submarines appear to go unchecked and Iran appears to be in the mood to share its nuclear technology with the likes of a Venezuelan government that seeks to undermine U.S. interests throughout the Americas.  The U.S. cannot put stock on diplomatic good offices and regional non-proliferation treaties alone.  In fact, the latter system could use a healthy and robust overhaul. 

While there is a genuine debate about whether developing countries should be allowed to posses civilian nuclear programs, talk like this clearly reinforces why countries like Iran and Venezuela cannot be trusted to have them in the first place.   Iran with a nuclear weapon is a major issue for the Middle East and Europe, a South American country with a nuclear device – not even a conventional system just a device – is an immediate problem for ours truly or our partners in the region. 

Venezuela supports and provides safe haven to terrorists from the Hemisphere and, it potentially, the Middle East.  It is a maker and trafficker of arms.  Oil money adventurism and anti-Americanism rampant throughout the hemisphere, including in the U.S., is a state foreign policy goal of the Bolivarian nation.   It is an staunch ally of two state sponsors of terrorism, Iran and Cuba.  And, as of late, seeking to make a name for itself as a nuclear power.  The government may even has some interesting financial links that include terrorist groups. 

A question pondered by many in this town who follow regional issues is what to do with this South American country?  For starters, maybe its time that Venezuela were designated a haven, and possibly even, a state sponsor of terror itself.

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