Yesterday the United States revealed it had ordered the expulsion of Venezuelan consul general, Livia Acosta Noguera, giving her until Tuesday to leave the country. The case is another example of the ratcheting up of tensions between the United States, Iran, and Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela. The timing of the case is sure to draw a shadow over the visit of Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to South America.
The details of the case also undercut the two leaders comments that Iran and Venezuelan are only concerned with peace and interested only in “bombs of love” rather than more sinister reasons for their alliance.
The accusations against Noguera surfaced last month following a documentary by US Spanish language television network, Univision.
The documentary claimed that while working for the Venezuelan Embassy in Mexico, Noguera discussed, with Cuban and Iranian officials, the launching of cyber attacks against the US, in particular the servers of American nuclear power plants.
The context of the story lies in the ongoing conflict between the United States and Iran, which today escalated even further with the news that US-Iranian, Amir Mirzai Hekmati, was to be sentenced to death on accusations of spying for the CIA. Since 2009, Iran has been the victim of cyber attacks which some have argued originated in the United States.
Although Iran denies it, these cyber attacks have brought complications and delays to its nuclear program. Additionally, Iran has been the victim of a spate of assassinations of a number of its leading scientific and military figures, attacks which are also suggested to have originated in the United States and Israel.
If the allegations against Noguera are true, it demonstrates that Iran is attempting to fight back in the cyber war by targeting sites in the United States. The accusations also help dismiss the narrative of Hugo Chavez that Venezuela is an innocent country being attacked by the United States.
Last month he accused the United States government of launching a program to spread cancer among Latin American leaders, while previously he has stated that the US was planning on invading his country. The accusation against Noguera is likely to reduce Chavez’s leverage in South America and puts a dark could on the remainder of Ahmadinejad’s jaunt in the region.
The Venezuelan and Iranian governments have so far refused to comment.