Venezuela-Iran: Die Welt is the original source for the following item, which is too important to overlook.
“Iran is planning to place medium-range missiles on Venezuelan soil, based on unidentified western sources, according to an article in the German daily, Die Welt, on 25 November. According to the article, an agreement between the two countries was signed during the last visit of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to Tehran on 19 October 2010.
The previously undisclosed contract provides for the establishment of a jointly operated military base in Venezuela, and the joint development of ground-to-ground missiles. According to Die Welt, Venezuela has agreed to allow Iran to establish a military base manned by Iranian missile officers, soldiers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Venezuelan missile officers. In addition, Iran has given permission for the missiles to be used in case of an “emergency”.
In return, the agreement states that Venezuela can use these facilities for “national needs” – radically increasing the threat to neighbors like Colombia. The German daily claims that according to the agreement, Iranian Shahab 3 (range 1300-1500 km), Scud-B (285-330 km) and Scud-C (300, 500 and 700 km) will be stored in the base. It says that Iran also pledged to help Venezuela in rocket technology expertise, including intensive training of officers.”
NIGHTWATCH Comment: The Die Welt report is the first in open sources and has not been confirmed. The status of the agreement also is not clear. For example, it is unknown whether the article describes a proposal, an agreement in principle, or a contract. If a contract or other agreement, its status is not clear.
The legal complications of building foreign missile base are layered and complex. Even in Venezuela Chavez lacks the authority to complete an agreement on his own. The complexity of the arrangements suggests this might be wishful thinking, a preliminary agreement of some kind or just plain propaganda to stoke US concerns.
What is known is that Chavez has sought to develop a ballistic missile capability for years, but with little apparent success. Iranian Revolutionary Guards also have been reported in Venezuela as well as Nicaragua, but not in significant numbers.
Venezuela has engaged in a multi-billion dollar arms spending spree in Russia to build its military capabilities to deter a US attack, according to Chavez. However, no sources have reported Russian sales of ballistic missiles.
North Korea has tried to market ballistic missiles in South America with no success to date. It genuinely wants a foothold in America and has good relations with Cuba, but no foothold there. Thus, Iran could be fronting for North Korea. Iran most likely possesses all three of the missiles mentioned, but acquired them, the technology and any production facilities from North Korea.
If the Die Welt report is accurate, it would be the first agreement to base foreign ballistic missiles in a Latin American country since the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. If Shahab-3s eventually show up in Venezuela, then so will North Koreans because that missile is an Iranian modification of the North Korean NoDong ballistic missile. The Iranians are not good at maintaining them and over the years regularly have required North Korean technical assistance. If Iranian missiles ever show up in Venezuela, North Korea will be in on the deal and gotten a significant share of any profits. That would make this the first North Korean foothold in South America.
Phi Beta Iota: US foreign policy has been virtually non-existent for decades, and in the case of Latin America, toxic for centuries. The ideolgical idiocy with respect to Venezuela, the general sense of entitlement and preening faux superiority, and the utter deep ignorance among diplomatic staffs, combined with the inept but well-funded misadventures of the CIA, have DESTROYED what should have been the most coherent and constructive hemispheric development opportunity on the planet. We observe with interest that no Ambassadors in Latin America have changed between the Bush and Obama Administrations, and that Hillary Clinton has been–in the words of Madeline Albright–just another gerbil on a wheel. There is nothing intelligent about US foreign policy, nor is there anything moral or righteous.