During a televised Cabinet meeting yesterday, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez joked with his Mining Minister Rodolfo Sanz, asking, "How's the uranium for Iran? For the atomic bomb?" The comment drew snickers from Cabinet members.
The joke was a direct response to U.S. State Department spokesman Ian Kelly's recent statement that the United States is worried about the possibility of a nuclear collaboration between Iran and Venezuela. Kelly's concerns were voiced after the revelation that Iran has secretly been building a uranium-enrichment plant they had neglected to report to the proper international authorities. The secret plant has raised concerns among many countries, including the U.S., Russia, France, Britain, Germany and China.
Chavez, however, has forged ties with the Iranian government as of late and has publicly insisted on Iran's "sovereign right" to pursue peaceful nuclear ambitions. He does not believe that the Islamic republic is pursuing nuclear power in a bid to build weapons, but rather for civilian nuclear work.
The President also said he would continue with plans to develop nuclear energy in Venezuela, where uranium deposits have been detected, "They are going to start saying that we are going to make an atomic bomb," Chavez declared.