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  • Iran and Venezuela

    They call their relationship an 'axis of unity'. This may emerge into a stronger relationship worth watching.

    The Emerging Axis of Iran and Venezuela
    9 Sept [WSJ] The diplomatic ties between Iran and Venezuela go back almost 50 years and until recently amounted to little more than the routine exchange of diplomats. With the election of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2005, the relationship dramatically changed.

    Today Mr. Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez have created a cozy financial, political and military partnership rooted in a shared anti-American animus. Now is the time to develop policies in this country to ensure this partnership produces no poisonous fruit.

    Signs of the evolving partnership began to emerge in 2006, when Venezuela joined Cuba and Syria as the only nations to vote against a U.N. Atomic Energy Agency resolution to report Iran to the Security Council over its failures to abide U.N. sanctions to curtail its nuclear program.

    A year later, during a visit by Mr. Chávez to Tehran, the two nations declared an "axis of unity" against the U.S. and Ecuador. And in June of this year, while protesters lined the streets of Tehran following the substantial allegations of fraud in the re-election of Mr. Ahmadinejad, Mr. Chávez publicly offered him support. As the regime cracked down on political dissent, jailing, torturing and killing protesters, Venezuela stood with the Iranian hard-liners.

    Meanwhile, Iranian investments in Venezuela have been rising. The two countries have signed various Memoranda of Understanding on technology development, cooperation on banking and finance, and oil and gas exploration and refining. In April 2008, the two countries also signed a Memorandum of Understanding pledging full military support and cooperation. United Press International reported in August that Iranian military advisers have been embedded with Venezuelan troops.

    According to a report published by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in December of last year, Venezuela has an estimated 50,000 tons of unmined uranium. There is speculation in the Carnegie report that Venezuela could be mining uranium for Iran. ....

  • #2
    Iran is making use of Venezuela's banking network to skirt international sanctions.

    Closer US oversight of Iran, Venezuela links urged
    2 days ago [AP] WASHINGTON — The growing relationship between Venezuela and Iran is stoking the nuclear ambitions of both countries and needs to be more carefully tracked by U.S. authorities, a veteran New York prosecutor said Tuesday.

    In a speech at The Brookings Institution, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said investigations by his office show Iran is using Venezuela's established banking network to skirt international sanctions and acquire the materials needed for its nuclear program.

    At the same time, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez wants to build a "nuclear village" in Venezuela with Iran's help, according to Morgenthau, who said such a development would be a "destabilizing force" in Latin America.

    Despite the global implications of this budding partnership, the United States isn't paying close enough attention to it, Morgenthau warned. .....

    "Generally speaking, nobody is focused sufficiently on the threat of the Iran-Venezuela connection," said Morgenthau, whose New York jurisdiction includes the offices of numerous U.S. financial institutions. ....

    Venezuela is not under U.S. or international economic sanctions. That means U.S. banks processing wire transfers from Venezuelan banks rely on their Venezuelan counterparts to ensure the exchanges are for legitimate purposes, Morgenthau said. ....

    In early 2008, Iran opened in Caracas a subsidiary of the Export Development Bank of Iran. Last fall, the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed economic sanctions against both banks for providing financial support to the military organizations responsible for Iran's nuclear program.

    Still, Morgenthau said he believes Iran's Caracas subsidiary has ties with banks in Venezuela and in Panama, which has a reputation as a center for money laundering.

    Morgenthau said Iranian-owned and operated factories have sprung up in remote and undeveloped areas of Venezuela. While there's little known about what's going on inside these plants, "we should be concerned that illegal activity might be taking place," he said.

    Morgenthau cited cases his office has recently pursued that underscore the lengths Iran will go to avoid sanctions aimed at curbing its nuclear program.

    One involved a bank in the United Kingdom, Lloyds TSB, that altered wire transfer information to hide the identity of the clients, which were Iranian banks. This process, known as "stripping," allowed the illegal transfer of more than $300 million of Iranian cash through financial institutions around the world, including the United States.

    Morgenthau said information gathered through ongoing investigations reveals that the Iranians, with help from Venezuela, "are now engaged in similar economic and proliferation sanctions-busting schemes."


    • #3
      Iran although oil rich, has to import 40% of its petrol (gasoline) because of insufficient refining capacity. This MOU will help Iran break a petrol stranglehold due to new sanctions.

      Iran, Venezuela sign 3 energy MoUs
      8 Sept [TehranTimes] TEHRAN – Iran and Venezuela signed three memorandums of understanding in the energy sector in Tehran on Sunday.

      Two of the MoUs were inked between Iranian Oil Minister Masoud Mirkazemi and his Venezuela counterpart Rafael Ramirez during the Venezuelan delegation’s visit to Tehran which was headed by President Hugo Chavez.

      --- Iran will import gasoline from Venezuela if sanctioned
      Based on an agreement between the two sides, Tehran will import gasoline from Caracas if the West imposes sanction on Iran, Mirkazemi said here on Monday. ....

      Chavez has said the agreement is of high importance.

      According to the MoU, Iran will daily import 20,000 barrels of gasoline, worth $800 million, from Venezuela as of October.

      Venezuela will import technology and machinery from Iran in exchange for the export-bound gasoline.

      -------- Swapping $760m energy investments

      Based on two other agreements, Venezuela and Iran will both invest $760 million in each other’s energy sectors. ....


      • #4
        Hugo Chavez did much more than visiting Iran. He went on a grand nine-country tour to Africa, Middle East and Europe.

        Chavez wraps up controversial tour with stop in Spain
        2 hrs ago MADRID, Spain (CNN) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez ended a sometimes controversial nine-country tour on a quieter note Friday, meeting with top Spanish leaders in Madrid.

        Chavez, while in Russia on Thursday, announced his country has decided to recognize the independent republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Venezuela becomes just the third country to do so after Russia and Nicaragua. ....

        Chavez earlier visited in Iran, where he pledged to export 20,000 barrels per day of gasoline to strengthen bilateral ties.

        He was also in Syria, where news reports said he told thousands at a soccer stadium that Israel's government was "genocidal." ....

        A Zapatero aide said that Chavez's visit was not considered official, but merely a stopover made at Chavez's request at the end of his tour to Africa, the Middle East and Europe. ...


        • #5
          Hugo Chavez is getting Iran's help. For them this may mean a win-win solution.

          Iran Aiding Venezuela In Uranium Studies - Official
          25 Sept [WSJ] PORLAMAR, Venezuela (Dow Jones)--Venezuela possesses important uranium reserves that are being probed with Iran's help, Venezuelan Mining Minister Rodolfo Sanz said Friday.

          "We have important uranium reserves," Sanz told reporters .... "Iran is helping us with geophysical aerial probes and geochemical analyses."

          Venezuela's uranium reserves are located in the mineral-rich state of Bolivar and in Tachira, which borders Colombia, Sanz added. The government will seek to certify the reserves in the next two to three years, he said.

          President Hugo Chavez will decide if the country's uranium reserves are used in Venezuela or if they will be exported, the minister said.

          Sanz statements comes as Venezuela is facing increased scrutiny because of its links with Iran. Earlier this month, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau warned of the growing relationship between Iran and Venezuela.

          Morgenthau said U.S. authorities should track the relationship more carefully and said his office's investigations reveal Iran is using Venezuelan banks to dodge international sanctions and acquire the materials needed for its nuclear program.

          Earlier Friday, the leaders of the U.S., France and the U.K. accused Tehran of building a covert uranium enrichment facility, a development they said directly challenges the world's non-proliferation rules.


          • #6
            Originally posted by Merlin View Post
            Hugo Chavez is getting Iran's help. For them this may mean a win-win solution.

            Iran Aiding Venezuela In Uranium Studies - Official
            Here, I think, is the key point. The Iran-Venezuela axis is an axis of impotence, unless you add nuclear weapons to the mix. If Iran gets nukes, the next strategic steps are obvious.