Venezuela's Chavez Affirms 'Solidarity with the Iranian People’ Against Those Who Would Stop Iran's Nuclear Program

By Edwin Mora | October 19, 2010 | 8:34 PM EDT

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is welcomed to Tehran by his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday, Oct. 19, 2010. The writing on banner at background in Farsi and Spanish reads "Welcome." (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

( - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, speaking in Tehran on Tuesday, affirmed his country's solidarity with the Islamic Republic in opposing efforts to prevent Iran from developing what he called a peaceful nuclear energy program.

Chavez’s comments came a few days after he secured an agreement with Russia to build Venezuela’s first nuclear power plant.

“We will evaluate the global geopolitical situation and above all the tensions that imperialism continues to generate in this region and sanctions [imposed by the U.N. Security Council] that have been applied to the Iranian people,” he said, according to a Venezuelan government press release. “Our solidarity stands with the Islamic Revolution. It is necessary to respect Iran's sovereignty."

The Socialist leader told Iranians that recent criticism of Venezuela's sovereign right to build a nuclear plant, with support from Russia, "is the same old story of the empire and all its global networks" (the U.S. and its allies) that are trying to prevent the independence of both the Venezuelan and Iranian people. 

"In the path we have taken, we ratify our solidarity with the Iranian people," added Chavez, in reference to sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council -- at U.S. insistence -- to force Iran to abandon its nuclear program.

"The mechanisms of cooperation between Venezuela and Iran already have their own life," said Chavez. "Relations between Venezuela and Iran are strong and deep."

In response to the deal between Russia and Venezuela, Philip J. Crowley, a U.S. State Department spokesman, said last week, "It is certainly a right of any country to pursue civilian nuclear energy, but with that right comes responsibilities.”  

Jorge Valero, the permanent U.N Representative of Venezuela, in a statement criticized  the U.S. government for calling into question the rights of other nations that want to develop a nuclear industry, "especially when it comes to developing countries that need to diversify their energy sources and achieve technological independence."

Valero indicated that Iran has been demonized because of its decision to implement a nuclear program for, Iran claims, peaceful purposes. Israel, the United States, Britain, and other European nations are skeptical of Iran’s assertions and contend that the theocratic regime will use its nuclear program to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.

Valero said of the nuclear program, "This affects the national project of social and economic development in Iran. These threats [against Iran] must be condemned by a peace loving world.”

During his speech in Tehran, Chavez did not mention that the U.N. sanctions were put in place in an attempt to deter Iran from developing a nuclear weapon.   

In July of this year, President Barack Obama signed the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010. The new law applies only to “the sale or provision of refined petroleum products made on or after July 1, 2010.”

As has reported, the United States is closely monitoring the links between Iran and Venezuela, amid fresh claims of their deepening collaboration.

Last month, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said allegations made by veteran Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau were serious and would be looked into.
In a speech at the Brookings Institution, Morgenthau addressed said Iran and Venezuela were “creating a cozy financial, political, and military partnership.”
Morgenthau said the Islamic regime in Tehran considers Venezuela’s left-wing government “the perfect ally,” one whose financial system could be exploited to get around sanctions imposed against Iran for its nuclear activities.
Furthermore, Morgenthau said, “its geographic location is ideal for building and storing weapons of mass destruction far away from Middle Eastern states threatened by Iran’s ambition and from the eyes of the international community.” (See earlier story: Deepening Venezuela-Iran Alliance Stokes Concern)