Venezuela’s president Nicolas Maduro has said that it would be “a good idea” to purchase missiles from Iran, as the two countries expand trade relations under a joint banner of anti-US sentiment.
Ties between Caracas and Tehran have deepened in recent months as both regimes attempt to undermine aggressive US sanctions programmes.
And in May, Iranian tankers carried 1.53 million barrels of gasoline and alkylate gasoline to Venezuelan shores, in the most significant display yet of open defiance of Washington sanctions, amid a regular flow of supplies, technicians, businesspeople and officials.
Responding to Colombian allegations that his regime was now considering buying missiles from the Middle Eastern nation, Maduro said: “It had not occurred to me, it had not occurred to us.”
Speaking during a televised broadcast with cabinet members, he instructed defence minister Vladimir Padrino to follow the idea up, jokingly telling his ministers to keep the plan a secret.
“Padrino, what a good idea, to speak with Iran to see what short, medium and long range missiles they have, and if it is possible, given the great relations we have with Iran.”
Colombia’s president Ivan Duque cited intelligence reports showing that Maduro is handing over weapons made in Russia and Belarus to Colombian armed groups.
The Colombian leader – who refers to Mr Maduro as a dictator and, along with more than 50 other nations, considers opposition leader Juan Guaido the nation’s president – has frequently accused him of protecting and supporting former members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia rebel group and the still-active National Liberation Army guerrillas.
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