Nov 25 Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
was in Venezuela on Wednesday for meetings with friend and ally
President Hugo Chavez on a trip intended to cement growing
political and business ties between the two oil-exporting
Both fiery anti-U.S. ideologues, Ahmadinejad and Chavez
were expected to sign new industrial, energy and technology
deals despite opposition protests. [ID:nN24318467]
The Iranian leader arrived on Tuesday night at the end of a
three-nation Latin America tour that also included Brazil and
Following are some facts about Venezuela-Iran ties.
* GEOPOLITICS: Ahmadinejad and Chavez both aim to weaken
U.S. "imperialism" and boost other centers of global power.
U.S. officials have expressed concerns about Iran's growing
influence in Latin America, especially in Venezuela. Tehran has
increased its presence in the region, promising to build
houses, dairies and vehicle factories. It receives diplomatic
support for its nuclear program in return.
Some in Washington fear the cooperation goes deeper and
that Venezuela might help Iran build nuclear weapons, a charge
both countries deny.
* NUCLEAR: Like some other Latin American leaders,
Venezuela supports Iran's nuclear program, which it says is for
peaceful purposes. Chavez would also like to develop nuclear
power but insists he is opposed to atomic weapons. Iran is
helping Venezuela map its uranium deposits, although Venezuela
does not yet mine the mineral.
* OIL: Venezuela and Iran are allies within the OPEC oil
alliance. This year they agreed to invest $760 million in each
other's energy sectors. Venezuela also pledged to export 20,000
barrels of gasoline per day to Iran to a total value of $800
million. The gasoline deal would help Iran if Western powers
impose sanctions on fuel imports due to its nuclear program.
Iran's national oil company Petropars is exploring a block in
Venezuela, which in turn has vowed to work in Iran's fields.
* FINANCE: Venezuela and Iran are both critics of global
financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund and
the World Bank. This year they set up a joint development bank
with starting capital of $200 million.
In 2008, the U.S. Treasury Department put sanctions on the
subsidiary of an Iranian bank operating in Venezuela.
Washington says the bank helps Iran sidestep sanctions and
channels money to weapons programs. Both Iran and Venezuela
deny the charge.
Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau said in
September he was investigating several banks in Venezuela for
aiding Iran dodge sanctions.
* ISRAEL: Chavez is very popular in the Muslim world.
partly for his strident opposition to Israeli foreign policy.
He calls Israel a "genocidal state" for its military action in
civilian areas in Palestine and for the Lebanon war, but does
not back Ahmadinejad's claim the Holocaust is a "deception."
* DEFENSE: Iran's defense minister visited Venezuela this
year, the first such visit since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
The two countries' armed forces said a deal between them
included cooperation on training, but did not give details.
* INDUSTRY: Venezuelan imports from Iran were worth $73
million in 2008, with exports of just $700,000. The two
countries have signed dozens of business deals that on paper
are worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Iran has built
housing complexes in Venezuela and also has built cars, but
labor and financial problems have delayed output at vehicle
(Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel; Editing by Andrew
Cawthorne and Will Dunham)
((firstname.lastname@example.org; +58 212 277 2656; Reuters