El Nuevo Herald has obtained a copy of a contract (link in Spanish) signed in 2010 by Asdrúbal Chávez, Hugo Chávez cousin, by which the Venezuelan government contracted Iranian Offshore Engineering & Construction Company (IOEC) to enlarge the Astinave shipbuilding facility in the state Falcón which had previously been seized by Chávez’s government. (My translation: if you use it, please credit me and link to this post)

Astinave is located in Venezuela’s geographic point nearest to the USA and the Panama Canal, while the peninsula was identified by Western intelligence sources quoted in two reports by German daily Die Welt as the location chosen by Iran to locate some of its medium-range missiles.

According to Venezuelan military sources, Iran is using Astinave to unload its container ships.

Another report states that (emphasis added)

Venezuela has transferred at least one F-16 fighter to Iran in an attempt to help it calibrate its air defenses, in preparation for a possible Israeli or U.S. strike on its nuclear facilities, reports Spanish newspaper ABC.

ABC, one of the three largest Spanish dailies and aligned with the ruling rightist party, wrote that the transfer, in 2006, was supervised by one of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez’s closest aides. The paper’s Washington correspondent, Emili J. Blasco, said the story was based on both sources in Venezuela’s air force and classified documents, following a tip- off by a non-Western intelligence agency.

Specifically,

At least one F-16 was transferred to Iran in 2006. According to the report, the jet was disassembled and packed in several sealed and unmarked wooden containers. These were loaded on a Boeing 707 Venezuelan air force plane that took off from the El Libertador Air Base, stopping in Brazil and Algeria before landing in Tehran, where it was reassembled. Venezuelan pilots instructed Iranian pilots and technicians as to the jet’s capabilities.

According to the news report, the F-16 was given to Iran so it could test its antiaircraft radar systems and become familiar with its capabilities, in preparation for a possible strike.

The trial flights in Iran were used to calibrate the Iranian air defense systems. Iranian officers also studied the speed of the F-16 on the radar screens.

We all know Chávez is a buffoon, but, as Roger Kimball said, the Ridiculous Is no Laughing Matter

here’s the thing to remember. We often assume that someone who is ridiculously contemptible is therefore not dangerous. History shows that, on the contrary, the ridiculous can easily cohabit with the malevolent.

The photo above was taken during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit to Caracas last week.

Cross-posted at Fausta’s blog.