Tehran Wheels, Moscow Deals for Expanded Foothold in South America
Moscow is orchestrating a three-way deal with Tehran and Brasilia hinging on the offer of a new Iranian foothold in Latin America and access to Brazil's rich uranium deposits.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly's Iranian sources reveal that highly-charged discussions are afoot in the office of Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to fix the date for a state visit by Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad in two or three months time.
They plan to sign a series of trade and cooperation agreements during the public part of the visit while, on the quiet, the Iranian president will be taken around Brazilian nuclear labs and weapons manufacturing plants. The treaties they sign will establish a framework for Iranian-Brazilian cooperation in technology and exchanges of scientific and engineering teams specializing in nuclear and weapons design.
But Tehran's main object in setting up these relations with Brazil is to lay its hands on some of the largest uranium deposits in the world, with enough for Brazil's own needs and plenty left over for export.
Tehran was tipped off to this potential bonanza by Sergey Kiriyenko, head of the Russian Atomic Energy Commission, the man prime minister Vladimir Putin appointed to finish building Iran's nuclear reactor at Bushehr. This official's brief was extended last year to developing nuclear ties between Moscow and Brasilia as a lucrative business proposition.
Moscow is going after the concession – or a majority stake – in the development of Brazilian uranium mines by bringing along a ready-made customer, Iran. Kirienko prepared the way by a visit to Brasilia in October 2008 when he offered his hosts modern Russian methods of extracting the uranium, new nuclear power plants and superconducting technologies. Russian scientists surveyed 25-30 percent of Brazilian territory at shallow depths for uranium deposits; even that limited search uncovered reserves of 350,000 tons, making Brazil the sixth largest uranium producer in the world.
Ahmedinejad is here to stay
Kiriyenko said at the time that if modern technologies were used [and Russia has deep prospecting technologies], then natural uranium reserves in Brazil could be increased by many times, at least threefold but possibly five- or tenfold.”
He suggested cooperation in the nuclear sphere as well.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly's military sources report that a Russian-Iranian-Brazilian breakthrough deal on the lines drawn by the Russian nuclear czar would be anti-American in nature and a powerful setback for both the US and Israel.
Washington and Jerusalem have been knocking on Lula's door to persuade him to call off Ahmadinejad's visit, but in vain. The Iranian president is already looking ahead to his next Latin American destination, angling for an invitation to Buenos Aires. No one in any of these capitals doubts that Ahmadinejad will walk off with Iran's presidential election in June and is there to stay. Having established close bonds with Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, Bolilvia's Evo Morales and cooperative ties with Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, he is seen in Tehran as the father of Iran's Latin American drive against the United States.
Iran's spiritual leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei holds the belligerent president up as the hero who brought the Islamic Republic's nuclear program close to breakout to weapons production and launched a revolutionary satellite into space. He is also credited with a Middle East doctrine that holds Israel in check and a South American campaign for subverting US influence.
Israel is now encircled by a deterrent ring consisting of Syria, Hizballah in Lebanon and Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in the Palestinian territories – one reason for Israel's hesitation before attacking Iran's nuclear facilities, as Israeli statesmen and military brass freely admit.
With all these “accomplishments” under his belt, Ahmadinejad has no rivals to fear in his run for re-election.
Iran plans to encircle US too with a Latin American deterrent ring
The Iranian president is now trying to establish a bloc of Latin American nations friendly to Tehran and willing to form into a diplomatic/economic, and even military, ring of deterrence against the United States. This plan may appear far-fetched but Tehran is counting on the following spurs for a head start:
The traditional animosity to the United States existing in many parts of South America and the deep cultural and social differences between the two regions.
The massive influx of Muslims and Arabs into South America over the past 100 years.
Hizballah's infiltration of South America.
In the past two years, Hizballah has expanded its foothold at the tri-state border region of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay to the point that a Hizballah state-within-a state dominates the enclave.
Through massive bribes, the Lebanese terrorist organization has won complete freedom and autonomy of action.
Russia's military and economic penetration of South America is ongoing, mostly through Venezuela.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly's Moscow and Tehran sources report that the two governments are working together to further this expansion, creating fertile ground for an Iranian role.
Iran is building Persian colonies in most parts of South America under cover of local industrial-commercial partnerships. They are used as bases for clandestine operations, insertion points for planting Iranian undercover cells across Latin America and sanctuaries for anti-US activists.
Tehran has carried its Lebanese modus operandi over to Latin America:
Vast sums of petrodollars are lavished on these colonies for feeding hungry locals, building factories as workplaces, low-cost housing and other welfare projects for the needy.
Iran's dire economic crisis has not prevented it from allocating more than a billion dollars for projects in Venezuela and another $350 million for spending in Bolivia and other South American countries.
Plunging oil and gas revenues have not been allowed to curtail Tehran's subversive drive against US influence in South America. The “export of the Islamic revolution” is held sacrosanct by the Islamic regime and its funding is held in a secret and separate account.
Deputy Iranian Foreign Minister for Latin America, Ahmad Sobhani, said this week at a closed meeting in Tehran: “We have yet to take full advantage of our relations in that part of the world. The possibilities are enormous and can greatly enhance Iran's revolutionary goals.”
One reason why Tehran is so eagerly seeking pastures across the other side of the world is its failure to assert its will in the Arab mainstream nearer at home. Egypt backed solidly by Saudi Arabia has drawn clear battle lines against Iranian influence.