German paper: Iran is building rocket launch bases in Venezuela

Via the Astute Bloggers, by “rockets,” they don’t really mean rockets. They mean rocket-rockets.

Iran is building intermediate-range missile launch pads on the Paraguaná Peninsula, and engineers from a construction firm – Khatam al-Anbia – owned by the Revolutionary Guards visited Paraguaná in February. Amir al-Hadschisadeh, the head of the Guard’s Air Force, participated in the visit, according to the report. Die Welt cited information from “Western security insiders.”

The rocket bases are to include measures to prevent air attacks on Venezuela as well as commando and control stations.

The Iranian military involvement in the project extends to bunker, barracks and watch tower construction. Twenty-meter deep rocket silos are planned…

According to Die Welt, the clandestine agreement between Venezuela and Iran would mean the Chavez government would fire rocket at Iran’s enemies should the Islamic Republic face military strikes.

Iran already has two intermediate-range missiles, the Shahab-3 and Shahab-4, with ranges of roughly 750 and 1,250 miles, respectively. They’ve been rumored for years to be working on the Shahab-5, supposedly based on North Korea’s long-range missile; that one, allegedly, will have a range of 2,500 miles. Just hours ago, a classified report to the UN Security Council claimed that Iran and North Korea are sharing ballistic missile technology. To put all that in perspective, the distance from Venezuela to Florida is not quite 1,500 miles. So, yeah, if this news report is correct, this is a Biden-esque big effing deal. Is it correct, though? “Western security insiders” is about as vague a description as you can get sourcing-wise, but Die Welt is, as far as I know, a credible German paper. Could be that this is just a rumor being spread now to focus public attention on the UNSC report, but there’s nothing unusual about Iran and Venezuela cooperating. Iranian media has been touting deepening ties with Caracas lately, in fact, and Chavez has spent five years burnishing his anti-American credentials via chummy photos ops with Ahmadinejad. That doesn’t mean he’d do something as provocative as hosting Iranian missiles, even if it would place him squarely in the footsteps of his idol Fidel, but it’s … interesting. And in fact, this isn’t the first time Die Welt has reported on this story. Its first article about the alleged missile base appeared in November. Hmmmm.

I don’t think Chavez would ever do something as nutty as fire a missile at the U.S. in retaliation for an attack on Iran. The aftermath would be “Bambi Meets Godzilla II.” But no doubt he’d love to have the missiles regardless, partly as an insurance policy against the U.S. ever taking the Qaddafi approach against him and partly to extort his neighbors in South America, namely Colombia. Meanwhile, for Iran, it’d be a sensational example of defying the White House by daring Obama to enforce the Monroe Doctrine. Both Ahmadinejad and Chavez relish challenging western (read: American) hegemony; the Monroe Doctrine is the ultimate example. Whether Ahmadinejad still matters in Iran or whether he’s, um, “under a spell” right now doesn’t much matter. I’m sure Khamenei’s plenty defiant in his own right.

A little video “atmospherics” for you as you contemplate. Hurry, Lockheed Martin, you’re our only hope!