Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (R) gestures to the media next to Cuba's Vice president Esteban Lazo at Havana's Jose Marti Airport January 11, 2012. Iran's leader is visiting four Latin American states., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Published 21:14 11.01.12
Iranian president arrives in Cuba; U.S. warns of ‘dangerous alliance’
Ahmadinejad’s Latin America tour seen as effort side-step international tensions and find new markets as the European Union considers an outright embargo on Iranian oil.
By DPA and Natasha Mozgovaya
Ahmadinejad arrived in Cuba Wednesday for a brief visit that is the third stop in his Latin American tour.
Ahmadinejad was to meet with Cuban President Raul Castro later Wednesday, after lecturing at the University of Havana. Cuban diplomatic sources in Havana said that Ahmadinejad also has plans to meet with historic Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
As he arrived in the communist island in the Caribbeann, Ahmadinejad lifted two fingers in a sign of victory. He was coming in from Nicaragua, where he attended Daniel Ortega's inauguration for a further presidential term late Tuesday.
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement Wednesday that “Iran and Cuba are both state-sponsors of terrorism, and need to be treated as immediate threats to our national security.”
According to the statement, “just as the Iranian regime has rejected every overture by the Administration, the Castro regime will never be coddled into changing its ways.”
At a time of tension in the oil-transport corridor of the Strait of Hormuz, Ahmadinejad's tour of Latin America - which started Sunday in Venezuela and is set to end Thursday in Ecuador - is seen as an effort to side-step growing international tensions and find new markets as the European Union considers an outright embargo on Iranian oil.
The US could impose sanctions on foreign countries doing business with Iran's central bank, which would also seriously block the inflow of money for its major export, oil.
Over the course of his trip, Ahmadinejad has denied that Iran aims to make a nuclear bomb, a growing concern in the international community which has threatened ever stricter sanctions as Iran defies demands for transparency.
Iran's threat to block the Strait of Hormuz in retaliation for the sanctions is not the only issue contributing to tensions. On Monday, international nuclear regulators confirmed that Iran has begun enriching uranium at a second enrichment site in Fordo, near Qom. Uranium enrichment is essential to producing weapons-grade material.
Ahmadinejad Slams Capitalism in Cuba
Posted Wednesday, January 11th, 2012 at 8:50 pm
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad criticized capitalism as a “system in decay” in a speech in Cuba, his latest stop on a Latin American tour.
Mr. Ahmadinejad said Wednesday capitalism is a “dead-end street” and said when capitalists “lack logic” they resort to using weapons to kill and destroy. He made the remarks during a speech at the University of Havana, where he was also awarded an honorary degree.
The Iranian leader did not discuss his country's controverisal nuclear program or the bombing Wednesday that killed an Iranian nuclear scientist in Tehran. Iranian officials have blamed the attack on Israel and the United States.
The visit comes as international pressure is mounting on Tehran over its nuclear program, for which it is facing growing sanctions.
President Ahmadinejad's visit to Cuba is part of a four-nation Latin America tour that has already taken him to Venezuela and Nicaragua, where he attended the inauguration of President Daniel Ortega.
Later Wednesday, he was expected to meet with Cuban President Raul Castro as well as with Fidel Castro before heading to Ecuador.
In recent years, the Iranian president has courted leftist, populist and anti-American Latin American leaders, particularly the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
U.S. officials have urged Latin American countries not to deepen their ties with Iran.
The United States has called the tour a sign of desperation for Iran, which has been heavily sanctioned over its nuclear program. And a State Department spokeswoman accused the Iranian government of being “desperate for friends” and of what she called “flailing around” to find new allies.