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Chavez to Obama: no more talking, we’re still selling

June 10, 2011

The Islamic “Republic” of Iran can be thought of as a thin layer of scum atop a giant pond of oil. But Iran cannot refine itself out of a brown paper bag. Consequently, it must rely on imports to fuel their freight trucks, military equipment, and cars.

The U.S. enacted CISADA last year to penalize entities that continue selling gasoline to Iran.  Enforcement of CISADA has been weak enough over the past year to prompt the U.S. Senate to delay the confirmation of David Cohen, Pres. Obama’s flawed nominee for undersecretary of sanctions and terrorist financing at the Treasury Department.

The threat of delayed confirmation may be all it took to get acting undersecretary Cohen off his duff and start identifying the gas vending vassals of Iran.  The Treasury Department announced that Petroleos de Venezuela sells to Iran, and eliminated preferences to it that the U.S. normally offers to oil exporters.

That hasn’t sat well with Venezuelan bullyboy Hugo Chavez.  In retaliation he is severing diplomatic relations with the U.S.  From the Examiner on Jun. 6:

Venezuela officially “froze” relations with the United States on Sunday according to a top diplomat from Hugo Chavez’s government. Venezuela is striking back after Washington levied sanctions against them for doing business with Iran – commerce the U.S. fears is financing Tehran’s nuclear program.

Venezuelan foreign minister Nicolas Maduroalso also indicated that reestablishing communications with the U.S. was “impossible”.

The U.S. imposed sanctions on Petroleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) last month because the state oil company delivered $50 million worth of refined petroleum products to Iran between December and March.

The sanctions bar PDVSA from any U.S. government contracts, taxpayer-subsidized import-export financing and export licenses for sensitive technology. Venezuelan companies can still sell oil to U.S. private corporations.

The U.S. also imposed penalties on Venezuela’s Military Industries Co. for violating the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Act which bans buying and selling of sensitive technology related to nuclear, chemical and/or biological weapons and ballistic missile systems.

Chavez has persisted to defend the Iranians, claiming their nuclear program is meant for peaceful applications such as generating electricity.

Advertisement Venezuela is one of America’s main suppliers of petroleum and the U.S. is the South American country’s chief oil buyer.

Energy Minister Rafael Ramirez hinted that Venezuela might reduce its dependence on sales to the U.S. by exporting more oil to China and other countries.

Though tensions between the two countries reached a zenith under Bush, Chavez hoped the relationship would change when Obama took office. Yet the U.S. and Venezuela have been without ambassadors in each other’s capitals since July 2010.

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