CARACAS, Venezuela (JTA) — Rumors that Venezuela is helping Iran develop a nuclear bomb were ridiculed in a new cache of diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.
“A plain-spoken nuclear physicist [said] that those spreading rumors that Venezuela is helping third countries (i.e. Iran) develop atomic bombs are full of (expletive), one of the cables says. It adds that "Venezuela is currently unable to provide such assistance particularly as the Chavez administration ‘does not trust scientists.’ ”
It has been speculated previously that Iran’s interest in developing close ties with Venezuela is centered on its nuclear ambitions and desire to exploit Venezuela’s untapped uranium deposits. Last year, news reports citing an Israeli Military Foreign Affairs Ministry document claimed that Bolivia and Venezuela were supplying uranium to Iran.
The cable also noted that Venezuela’s deteriorated scientific infrastructure by its own admission is not capable at present of determining whether or not uranium concentrations are high enough to exploit.
“… Even if the Venezuelan government used all Cuban scientists, exploring the commercially viable uranium deposits in Venezuela would require a large taskforce and news of such an effort would leak quickly,” said the cable, which was dated June 2009.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez have met nearly a dozen times and signed billions of dollars worth of economic agreements. Chavez has called Iran a “brother nation” to Venezuela.
Rumors of a nuclear partnership between the two allies “may burnish [Venezuela’s] revolutionary credentials” but have little basis in reality, the cable concluded.
The cable also scorned as “political theater” a nuclear cooperation agreement signed last year between Venezuela and Russia in which Venezuela announced it would spend billions to buy nuclear fuel plants from Russia.
“The agreement between Venezuela and Russia on nuclear cooperation has no real substance,” the cable said.