BY NICK SIMEONE
WASHINGTON, March 20, 2013 – U.S. Southern Command’s top officer told Congress today that Iran is actively working to expand its presence in Latin America to cultivate allies at a time when Tehran is facing tough U.S and international sanctions for its alleged nuclear weapons program.
Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly told the House Armed Services Committee that Iran “has been very, very active over the last few years” in cultivating diplomatic and cultural ties to the region, especially by befriending Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died earlier this month.
“They’ve opened embassies, they’ve opened cultural centers,” he testified, adding that on the surface, all of this appears to be normal.
“But to what end is obviously the issue,” he told the House panel.