Venezuelan Missile Crisis? Chavez Letting Iran Build Rockets on Coast, German Paper Says

Stop us if this sounds familiar: An antagonistic South American strongman invites one of America's worst enemies to build long-range missiles in his country, sending the region -- and damn near the world -- to the brink.

Hugo Chavez apparently would love nothing more than to follow his buddy Fidel down that path. A German newspaper is reporting that Chavez has invited Iranian engineers to start work on a missile base on the Caribbean coast with 20-meter-deep rocket silos. Eeep!

The report by Die Welt, a major Berlin-based daily, cites "Western security sources" in writing that Chavez secretly met in February with the chief of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's Air Force, Amir al-Hadschisadeh.

The pair finalized a location for the missile base, Die Welt says, on the Peninsula de Paraguana, a jut of land 120 kilometers from the Colombian border. Engineers from the Iranian state-owned construction agency, Khatam al-Anbia, have begun preliminary work on the base.

It's worth noting that most experts believe the base is a bid to make a rudimentary missile defense system for Caracas, and -- unlike Fidel's tet-a-tet with the Soviets -- there won't be any nukes involved. (Neither Venezuela nor Iran have nuclear technology just yet, though Iran is trying.)

Also, Iran's longest missiles can travel about 1500 km -- still short of Miami, which is more than 2,000 kilometers from Venezuela's coast.

But how can you not feel a little queasy at the idea of Mahmood Ahmadinejad building missiles that close to the U.S. -- not to mention our own front yards here in the Magic City?

Let's hope Obama can find a less exciting way to resolve this business than JFK.

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