Iran has been using Venezuela to help import and finance weapons denied by the international community.

In an address to the Brookings Institution on Sept. 8, Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau, who has investigated Iran’s financial network and fronts, said Teheran was employing Venezuela’s banking network to evade United Nations Security Council sanctions. He said Venezuela, which was not under international sanctions, was helping Iran procure material and components for Teheran’s nuclear weapons program. Venezuela was reported to have at least 50,000 tons of uranium ore reserves”

“Generally speaking, nobody is focused sufficiently on the threat of the Iran-Venezuela connection,” Mr. Morgenthau said, adding that “in the area of mineral exploration there is speculation that Venezuela could be mining uranium for Iran.”

In return, Caracas has sought Iran’s help to make Venezuela a nuclear power in South America. In 2008, Iran opened a subsidiary of the state-owned Export Development Bank of Iran in Caracas, which months later came under U.S. sanctions. The Iranian bank in Caracas was deemed as having funneled money to Iran’s nuclear program.

“Iran and Venezuela are beyond the courting phase,” Morgenthau said. “We know they are creating a cozy financial, political, and military partnership, and that both countries have strong ties to Hezbollah and Hamas. Now is the time for policies and actions in order to ensure that the partnership produces no poisonous fruit.”

Iran and Venezuela have signed a series of cooperation agreements, including in the areas of defense, energy, finance and joint technology development. In April 2008, Venezuela and Iran signed a memorandum of understanding that stipulated full military support and cooperation. Since at least 2006, Iranian military advisers have been embedded with Venezuelan Army and were establishing weapons factories in remote areas of the country. Two years later, Turkey detained an Iranian ship bound for Venezuela that contained laboratory equipment capable of producing explosives.

“The lack of infrastructure [in Venezuela] is offset by what experts believe to be ideal geographic locations for the illicit production of weapons,” Mr. Morgenthau said. “The mysterious manufacturing plants, controlled by Iran, deep in the interior of Venezuela, give even greater concern.”

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David Bedein is an MSW community organizer and an investigative journalist.   In 1987, Bedein established the Israel Resource News Agency at Beit Agron to accompany foreign journalists in their coverage of Israel, to balance the media lobbies established by the PLO and their allies.   Mr. Bedein has reported for news outlets such as CNN Radio, Makor Rishon, Philadelphia Inquirer, Los Angeles Times, BBC and The Jerusalem Post, For four years, Mr. Bedein acted as the Middle East correspondent for The Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. Bedein has covered breaking Middle East negotiations in Oslo, Ottawa, Shepherdstown, The Wye Plantation, Annapolis, Geneva, Nicosia, Washington, D.C., London, Bonn, and Vienna. Bedein has overseen investigative studies of the Palestinian Authority, the Expulsion Process from Gush Katif and Samaria, The Peres Center for Peace, Peace Now, The International Center for Economic Cooperation of Yossi Beilin, the ISM, Adalah, and the New Israel Fund.   Since 2005, Bedein has also served as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research.   A focus of the center's investigations is The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). In that context, Bedein authored Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict - UNRWA Policies Reconsidered, which caps Bedein's 28 years of investigations of UNRWA. The Center for Near East Policy Research has been instrumental in reaching elected officials, decision makers and journalists, commissioning studies, reports, news stories and films. In 2009, the center began decided to produce short movies, in addition to monographs, to film every aspect of UNRWA education in a clear and cogent fashion.   The center has so far produced seven short documentary pieces n UNRWA which have received international acclaim and recognition, showing how which UNRWA promotes anti-Semitism and incitement to violence in their education'   In sum, Bedein has pioneered The UNRWA Reform Initiative, a strategy which calls for donor nations to insist on reasonable reforms of UNRWA. Bedein and his team of experts provide timely briefings to members to legislative bodies world wide, bringing the results of his investigations to donor nations, while demanding reforms based on transparency, refugee resettlement and the demand that terrorists be removed from the UNRWA schools and UNRWA payroll.   Bedein's work can be found at: www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com and www.cfnepr.com. A new site,unrwa-monitor.com, will be launched very soon.