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Abrams Says US Would 'Eliminate' Iranian Missiles in Venezuela

A senior State Department official on Monday [October 26] told Fox News the United States would stop Iranian “long-range missiles” reaching Venezuela or “eliminate” them if they reached the South American country.

Elliott Abrams, the US Special Representative for Iran and Venezuela, gave no specific information on what missiles might be involved, or on whether Iran and Venezuela had reached any agreement. The US opposed the ending earlier this month of a United Nations arms embargo on Iran.

“The transfer of long-range missiles from Iran to Venezuela is not acceptable to the United States and will not be tolerated or permitted,” Abrams told Fox. “We will make every effort to stop shipments of long-range missiles, and if somehow they get to Venezuela they will be eliminated there.”

Abrams said that as Iran had “announced its intention to engage in arms sales,” Venezuela was “an obvious target because those two pariah regimes already have a relationship…Venezuela is paying in gold to buy gasoline from Iran, and there is an Iranian presence in the country …Iran has shipped missiles to the Houthis [in Yemen], so we know they are ready, willing, and able to ship them to Venezuela and other possible buyers.”

Iran has emphasized its missile program both in terms of propaganda and as an alternative to its US-supplied air-force, which declined markedly after the 1979 Revolution and has little deterrent value. The missiles go to a range of 2,000km for the Shahab-3 and Khorramshahr.

Since 2017, Iran has launched several shorter-range missile strikes: in 2017 and 2018 against the Islamic State group (Isis) in Syria; in 2018 against the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran in Iraq; in 2019 against Saudi Arabian oil facilities; and in January 2020 against US bases in Iraq following the US assassination of the Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad.

In 2019, Venezuela deployed Russian S300 surface-to-air missiles, reportedly with Russian advisors. Abrams gave no information on what missiles Venezuela might want from Iran.

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