President Hugo Chavez said at the recent ALBA summit in Cochabamba, Bolivia that Bolivarian Venezuela “never will make an atomic bomb.” (The exact words in Spanish were “Venezuela jamás hará una bomba atomica.”)
Chavez is mind-numbingly bombastic and verbose. But he is also very precise. Chavez said Venezuela will “never make” – i.e. build – a nuclear weapon.
Of course, Chavez would never admit his ambition to possess nuclear weapons. That would be supremely stupid, which Chavez is not.
But Cuban leader Fidel Castro has been mentoring Chavez since the two first met in person at Jose Marti International Airport in Havana on 13 December 1994. And Fidel has always hankered to own nuclear weapons.
Chavez also has a very close strategic and personal alliance with Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who aggressively denies that Iran is developing nuclear weapons capabilities, insists that Iran’s nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes, and menacingly defends Iran’s “rights” to develop a native nuclear industry.
Chavez understands completely that the first rule of any despot or rogue state seeking to acquire nuclear weapons capability is “deny, deny, deny…”
But close Chavez ally Iran is almost at the point where it will have everything required to build nuclear weapons.
Iran also has impressive ballistic missile capabilities, thanks to other peace-loving states (and friends of Chavez) like China, Russia and North Korea.
And Chavez has several bilateral defense and security agreements in place with Tehran.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry charged in May 2009 that Venezuela and Bolivia are “selling” uranium to Iran.
Just a few weeks ago, Basic Industries and Mines Minister Rodolfo Sanz unwisely admitted that Iran is “helping” Venezuela prospect for uranium deposits in Bolivar state.
This Bolivarian/Iranian uranium program was vox populi in Venezuela for years before Sanz admitted the obvious.
Chavez went ballistic, and then Science and Technology Minister Jesse Chacon made things worse by clarifying that it was the Russians, not the Iranians, who were helping the Bolivarian regime look for uranium.
The Medvedev/Putin and Chavez regimes have an explicit nuclear cooperation agreement. France also reportedly wants to support the Chavez regime’s peaceful nuclear development program. Anything for a profit, Monsieur.
Chavez says that Venezuela has a right to its own nuclear power industry because the country’s crude oil and gas reserves won’t last forever. But Chavez also says Venezuela has over 315 bn bls of certified crude oil reserves and will soon be recognized as the world’s fourth largest gas power. Typical Bolivarian double-speak.
Caracas Gringo’s friend, the brilliant and sorely missed Dr. Constantine Menges, predicted almost seven years ago, in 2002, that as Chavez consolidated/expanded his power he would seek to acquire nuclear weapons capability as a deterrent against the United States and to menace neighbors like Colombia, Trinidad & Tobago – and, of course, Brazil.
The closer Iran comes to building nuclear weapons, the closer Chavez gets to clandestinely acquiring a nuclear device or two.
A Venezuelan-based nuclear deterrent in Bolivarian hands would fundamentally alter the landscape on which states like Iran, Russia, China and others are challenging the US globally.