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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 September 2006, 04:16 GMT 05:16 UK
Chavez warns against Iran attack
By Greg Morsbach
BBC News, Caracas

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wearing hard hats
Mr Ahmadinejad was welcomed to Caracas with full military honours
President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela has launched a robust defence of Iran's nuclear programme.

During a visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Mr Chavez warned the world of dire consequences if his ally was attacked by the US.

Mr Chavez has threatened to cut off oil supplies to the US if provoked.

This, he explained, on top of Iran shutting off its oil exports, could send oil prices soaring to well above $100 a barrel.

It was difficult for the Iranian leader to dodge questions by reporters on his country's controversial uranium enrichment programme at the end of his brief visit to Venezuela.

He had few surprises in store, saying that Iran would as before continue international negotiations on the subject.

He said there was no need to speed up the talks.

'Disastrous consequences'

President Chavez's tone, however, was far more confrontational.

"What gives the US the right," he asked, "to stop any country developing nuclear power for peaceful purposes?

"After all, they dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki."

And then he had this warning for Washington: "We don't want another war, but there will be disastrous consequences if Iran is attacked."

In terms of Venezuela's own nuclear ambitions, President Chavez said all countries needed to develop alternative sources of energy, including atomic power.

He then confirmed that Venezuela's energy ministry had its own department for nuclear affairs.

"We're looking into the whole nuclear subject at the moment," he explained.

In the early 1950s, Venezuela had Latin America's first nuclear research facilities. But when the then military dictatorship ended, they were shut down due to lack of funds.

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