Sunday, February 19, 2012

Latin American nations looking for Iran ties, playing with fire

Senator Marco Rubio warns Latin American states that deepening relations with Iran was playing with fire

Source: Press TV

US senators have warned the Latin American nations against the deepening financial and military ties with Iran, stressing that the relations with Iran is like “playing with fire.”

According to the Inter-American Security Watch, Iran's relations with Latin America, especially with Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, were the subject of heated discussions at the US Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on February 16.

“Countries in this [Western] hemisphere that, for political and financial gain, have courted Iran's overtures proceed at their own risk: the risk of sanctions from the United States,” Democratic Senator Robert Menendez told the session.

Republican Senator Marco Rubio echoed Mendez also warned in this regard by saying that “the leaders of these [Latin American] countries are playing with fire.”

Addressing the committee meeting, researcher Douglas Farah claimed that Iran was trying to develop ties with Latin America to use the region for attacking US interests and to reduce the impact of international sanctions on its economy.

“Of particular concern is Iran’s quest for raw nuclear materials and what US National Intelligence Director James Clapper recently described as Iran’s increasing willingness to mount attacks on US soil,” he added.

Former US ambassador to the Organization of American States Roger Noriega said that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, “are conspiring to wage an asymmetrical struggle against US security [from Latin America].”

On Saturday February 11, US State Department Acting Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roberta Jacobson said Iran's growing clout in Latin America has greatly concerned Washington as they believe the Iranian influence is “not positive” for that region.

Iran has been seeking to expand relations with the Latin American countries over the past few years, describing the endeavor as one of its major foreign policy strategies.

The country’s rising popularity in Latin America has raised major concerns in the United States, which regards the region as its strategic backyard and traditional sphere of influence.

Leaders of the Latin American nations have enhanced diplomatic and trade ties with Iran in recent years while their relations with the United States have been downgraded amid popular demands for an end to dependence on Washington.

On January 6, the US warned the Latin American states against expanding diplomatic and business ties with Iran, expressing concern over “Iran's outreach to the Western Hemisphere.”

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