This Southern Pulse Intel Brief, dated 24 September 2009, is republished here with permission from the Southern Pulse editors.
In a recent interview with conservative French newspaper Le Fiargo, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez thanked Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for the technology transfer required to develop a nuclear energy program in Venezuela. The agreement, Chavez claims, was signed in early September, and serves as a capstone for the tightening of relations between the two countries over the course of 2009.
While visiting Ahmadinejad on his eighth trip to Iran during the week of 5 September, Chavez reportedly followed up on 186 separate agreements formed between the two countries since 2005. A 10-year strategic alliance was proposed, as well as joint plans for the construction of a oil refinery in Syria with an expected capacity of processing 150,000 barrels of oil a day.
Venezuela has also agreed to sell Iran 20,000 barrels of gasoline a day beginning in October 2009, but Chavez declined to disclose the duration of the US$800 million agreement. To further support Iran’s energy needs, PDVSA has also agreed to establish operations at Iran’s South Pars 12 gas field, with estimated reserves of some 12.6 billion cubic meters of natural gas
Iran has reciprocated with the announcement that its government will validate educational qualifications and academic titles awarded in 47 Venezuelan universities.
The September meeting comes only five months after Chavez’s last visit to Tehran in the first week of April, when he travelled with a selected group of Venezuelan businessmen. They were on hand to witness the inauguration of a joint Venezuelan-Iranian development bank, reportedly capitalized with US$200 million, with half to be provided by each government. Iranian Kourahs Parvizian will become the president of the bank, while Venezuelan Nelson Ortega will become the vice president.
While in Tehran, Chavez also called into a Venezuela Television show, Contragolpe, to describe plans for a joint Venezuelan-Iranian mining company to formalize five years of mining operations shared with Iran in Venezuela. Chavez noted that the new mining company would focus on six minerals and some precious stones, including diamonds.
Later in April, the Iranian Defense Minister Mostafa Mohammad Majjar landed in Caracas for a short trip to sign a series of “unspecified agreements.” Presumably, these agreements facilitated the 29 April signature of a memorandum of understanding between the Venezuelan and Iranian armed forces.
Within the remaining months of 2009, Venezuela and Iran are likely to expand on their peaceful nuclear initiative, one that France has already flagged as a violation of UN Security Council resolution 1737.