Ambassador Roger Noriega of AEI and Christopher Sabatini of Council of the Americas and Americas Society discussed the evidence regarding Iran’s alleged activities in Latin America in an event at AEI on Thursday. Ambassador Noriega presented documents and photographs that described the economic relations between Iran and Venezuela, the appearance of uranium mining in Venezuela and Ecuador and ties between Hezbollah and Latin American leaders. Sabatini analyzed the basis and context of the evidence, calling for more detail and caution in analyzing and responding to the apparent dangers of Iran’s involvement with Latin America. Although they disagreed on the nature of the evidence, both experts concurred that Iran and Venezuela pose significant concerns that the United States should take very seriously.
The recent alleged conspiracy by Iran's Qods Force to commit a terrorist attack in the heart of Washington, D.C., appears to shatter the conventional wisdom that Tehran and its dangerous proxies would never risk such a provocation on U.S. soil. It has also called attention to recruiting, training, fund-raising and planning efforts by Hezbollah and other Iranian operatives in Latin America, abetted by anti-U.S. regimes in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia and Cuba. Some U.S. officials have sought to minimize these claims. Are they simply being cautious; are they downplaying Iran’s culpability to preserve the engagement option; or are they uninformed? A panel of experts reviews documentary evidence of Iran's increasing influence in the Americas.