Nearly 12,000 kilometers, the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean separate them. But Iran and Venezuela have consolidated and perpetuated their strategic and political proximity, during the visit of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, Saturday, June 11, to Iran, after Algeria and Turkey. Its calendar owed nothing to chance and constituted in itself a snub to the address of their common enemy, the United States, which organized at the same time in Los Angeles the summit of the Americas, to which Venezuela was not invited. .
Venezuela, priority of Iranian economic diplomacy
In Tehran, the Venezuelan president and his Iranian counterpart, Ebrahim Raisi, signed a 20-year strategic cooperation agreement on Saturday, covering oil, petrochemicals, defense, agriculture, tourism and culture. A deal with high political value for these “pariah” states, pushed into each other’s arms by American sanctions.
Both claim a policy of “resistance” against Washington, as the Iranian Supreme Leader has pointed out. “The successful experience of both countries has shown that resistance is the only way to deal with American pressure,” said Ayatollah Khamenei, who received the Venezuelan leader at his residence in Tehran. “Venezuela has shown exemplary resistance in the face of sanctions and threats from enemies and imperialists,” added President Raisi, who presented Venezuela in October “as one of the priorities of Iran’s economic diplomacy”.
Gathered at the Saadabad presidential palace, the two heads of state attended a handover ceremony by videoconference. “in the Gulf” in Venezuela of a tanker made in Iran, with a capacity of 800,000 barrels. The second of four buildings ordered by Caracas from the Iranian company Sadra, under American sanctions for more than ten years for its links with the Revolutionary Guards.
Oil and petrochemicals are at the heart of the cooperation of the two major producing countries. In 2020, Venezuela received cargoes of Iranian oil and derivatives intended to partially stem the severe national shortage caused by the fall in crude production. “You came to our aid when the situation in Venezuela was very difficult and no country was helping us,” Maduro said. Tehran is also invested in the renovation of Venezuelan refineries. According to the Reuters agency, Iranian companies should tackle the largest in the country, Paraguana (955,000 barrels/day).
Another aspect of this agreement is tourism. Nicolás Maduro announced the July 18 inauguration of a Tehran-Caracas flight, saying his country was “ready to receive tourists from Iran, who will be able to enjoy the beauty of the Caribbean, the Andes and the Amazon”. A chimera for the vast majority of Iranians, who suffer from galloping inflation and a very difficult economic context since the reinstatement in 2018 of American sanctions, following the unilateral withdrawal of Donald Trump from the nuclear agreement.
The two allies finally intend to strengthen their ties in terms of food sovereignty. Nicolás Maduro mentioned a scientific collaboration aimed at producing more food in Venezuela for its people and for export to Iran. A way again to signify to the United States, to their allies and to their respective populations that the two countries remained determined to unite in the face of all types of sanctions and embargoes.