Diplomatic Ties

Iran and Venezuela share interests on the basis of their corrupt, authoritarian natures. This section points out the international forums in which this political alliance plays out, such as the U.N., the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), and the Bolivarian Alliance of the Americas (ALBA).

During significant political crises at home, the Iranian and Venezuelan regimes frequently resort to violent suppression. The leaders of these authoritarian regimes in turn coordinate their rhetoric to fend off international censure due to their dismal human rights records and lack of basic political freedoms. For example, in 2009, Chávez congratulated Ahmadinejad on his disputed reelection victory, claiming it was a “triumph all the way.” Meanwhile, the Iranian system arrested, detained, tortured, and killed Iranians peacefully demonstrating their political rights. Hassan Rouhani did the same for Maduro after the contested 2019 presidential election, denouncing U.S. “hegemony” for trying to topple his regime. More recently, amid the September 2022 Woman, Life, Freedom movement in Iran, reports emerged that Venezuela has offered asylum to Iranian regime officials in case of a regime overthrow.

In addition to relieving pressure on the international stage, Venezuela has sought to protect Iran from condemnation at the U.N. over its nuclear program. For example, in 2006, it joined Cuba and Syria in a vote at the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) against Iran’s referral to the U.N. Security Council for its nuclear program. Again in 2009, Venezuela voted against a U.N. resolution rebuking Iran for its secretive construction of the Fordow nuclear facility.

Within NAM, a group of nation-states that claim not to align with any significant power bloc, Venezuela and Iran launch rhetorical attacks against the U.S. and seek political support from the developing world. In September 2006, at the NAM Summit in Cuba, Chávez claimed he would defend Iran from invasion. Notwithstanding their membership in NAM, both countries engage in extensive collaboration with other authoritarian regimes, namely Russia and China. Furthermore, Iran holds full-member status in the China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

Iran’s relations with Venezuela have led to closer relations with other left-wing governments. Chávez helped Iran to open communication channels with Ecuador, Bolivia, and Nicaragua and backed Iran’s successful bid to become an honorary member of ALBA, an intergovernmental organization founded by Venezuela and Cuba in 2004 to encourage political and economic cooperation among leftist governments—often contrary to U.S. interests.

Therefore, Iran’s main diplomatic objective behind its relations with Venezuela is to gain political support on the international stage in order to bolster its legitimacy, provide cover for its nuclear escalation, and build anti-American coalitions with other Latin American countries.