Chavez nuclear gag riles the US

Guy Adams
Wednesday 07 October 2009 17:52
Comments
Hugo Chavez has once more managed to upset his American counterparts
Hugo Chavez has once more managed to upset his American counterparts

While the rest of the world scrambles to build missile defence shields, and the diplomatic community rushes to emergency meetings at the United Nations, Hugo Chavez is taking a splendidly relaxed view of Iran’s latest nuclear ambitions.

The Venezuelan President has once more managed to upset his American counterparts, this time by using a televised Cabinet meeting to crack knockabout jokes about helping Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to develop weapons of mass destruction.

Welcoming his late-arriving Minister for Mining, Rodolfo Sanz, to Tuesday’s gathering, which was being broadcast live on state television, Mr Chavez shuffled some papers and cheerfully inquired: “How’s the uranium for Iran? For the atomic bomb?”

Inside the room, the remark drew giggles. But at the US State Department, where irony is perhaps in less common currency, it prompted a stern response from officials concerned about possible nuclear transfers between Venezuela and Iran.

State Department spokesman Ian Kelly pointed out that Mr Chavez has previously said Iran has a “sovereign right” to pursue peaceful nuclear projects, regardless of international concern over revelations that it has developed a uranium enrichment plant.

Since Mr Chavez is a key ally of Mr Ahmadinejad (apparently on the basis that any enemy of the US is a friend of his) the US State Department is now concerned that his regime could supply the Islamic Republic with uranium from its recently-discovered deposits.

Venezuela has dismissed those concerns, though, pointing out that Iran already boasts significant uranium of its own and has no need to import any. Though Mr Chavez is keen to develop nuclear energy in his country, he has always been vehemently opposed to nuclear weapons.

In a separate move, perhaps designed to further needle the US, Mr Chavez recently announced that he intends to ban TV stations from broadcasting the imported cartoon Family Guy, claiming that it somehow promotes the use of marijuana.

Last year, his administration forced the network Televen to pull The Simpsons from the airwaves, saying the show flouted regulations prohibiting “messages that go against the whole education of boys, girls and adolescents.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in