Spanish – Iran, North Korea, and Venezuela, three distant nations totally different in customs, languages, and culture but with a common enemy: the United States.
The sanctions imposed by the United States on these countries seek the same end. They focus on putting pressure on the authoritarian regimes that have ruled them for decades, restricting their access to foreign exchange and diminishing the businesses they use to enrich themselves and stay in power.
However, through criminal ploys and deals, they have managed to create a military, technological, and economic alliance to evade sanctions, as well as to increase their defense capabilities, which could even threaten US security.
Iranian President Hassan Rohani and Korean dictator Kim Jong-un have pooled their nuclear expertise and supported each other in buying and selling weapons. Venezuela also enters the equation because of Nicolás Maduro’s desperation to stock up on gasoline, food, medicine, and weapons.
The scenario is now diffused with Democrat Joe Biden in the White House because of the possible relaxation of sanctions, among other complacencies that he could grant to these countries.
The origin of the sanctions
After the Revolution of 1979, Iran entered the blacklist of the American nation. From there, the sanctions were extended for accusations of terrorism and the use of nuclear weapons. Everything got worse for Iran in 2018 when Donald Trump left the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan (JCPA) because he considered that it did not mean any guarantee that that nation was really limiting the handling of uranium.
Hassan Rohani’s regime was left with its hands tied. The measures prohibit the purchase or acquisition of dollars by the government of Iran and transactions by foreign financial institutions with the Central Bank of Iran and include sanctions against oil and energy companies.
On the other side of the Asian continent is North Korea, subdued since 1948 by the dictatorship of Kim Il Sung and his descendants. In 2018, the United States approved its largest package of sanctions against that country to stop any economic income, including some 60 trade and shipping companies, of which 27 are companies and 28 are ships.
Kim Jong-un was virtually drowned out by US pressure to stop the North Korean nuclear program. This decision taken by Donald Trump is in line with a UN report, which warns about the high rates of malnutrition, unhealthiness, and poor access to water among the population.
The cherry on the cake is Venezuela, a criminal state that moved away from the legitimate oil business and locally made exports to depend on other nations with strong ties to terrorism, such as Iran.
Maduro has allowed the entry of military and even terrorists who consider Venezuela a strategic point in the hemisphere. He has imported oil in exchange for gold and handed over Venezuelan companies to Hassan Rohani.
The axis of evil
Iran and North Korea resumed their nuclear and long-range missile “cooperation” agreements later this year. An anonymous US source said Tehran’s theocracy might have enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon by the end of the year.
This axis of evil- a term coined by the United States in 2002- has supported each other with technical expertise. The countries have come closer due to their views on US foreign policy.
The alliance also represents an influx of foreign currency for the country subdued by Kim Jong-un, which exports arms to Iran to obtain foreign currency. The UN expressed its concern in 2019, initiating investigations into two North Korean missile and weapons companies suspected of operating in Iran.
On the other hand, Iran’s nuclear development is reportedly aided by North Korea’s technical expertise. The news came to light in 2007 when North Korea was advising Iran during a subway nuclear test.
The triangulation with Venezuela
Venezuela entered into this triangulation due to the sanctions that limit Maduro’s oil exports, and thus take millions of dollars out of his pocket.
The Iranian regime of Hassan Rohani has penetrated the Caribbean country at all levels: it exports the military, gasoline, medicines, takes over factories, and even installs supermarkets with products from that country.
The Iranians also advised the Chavista regime to export oil in “ghost” ships with false names and registration numbers to avoid being detected by US authorities.
On the other hand, an article in The Diplomat mentions that while North Korea cannot replace China’s monetary role in supporting Venezuela, it can provide advanced military technology and the institutional knowledge necessary to further exploit US sanctions to its advantage.
The real and legitimate objective was not known, but in 2019 Chavismo’s second in command, Diosdado Cabello, traveled to that country to meet with members of congress and political activists. In fact, the biased media of the Caribbean country said that the visit was to “strengthen the bonds of cooperation.”
The new US administration
The Biden administration can use food aid to improve relations with these countries without legitimizing their dictatorial regimes through bilateral summits and commitments by heads of state, reports The Diplomat.
However, the phrase “improve relations” remains to be seen, considering the alliance these three countries have formed based on a grudge against the US nation.
What is certain is that beyond resentment, both Iran and North Korea, and Venezuela depend to a great extent on the next decisions issued from the White House.
Iran has been cautious about the results of the elections in that country, to the point that its citizens will elect a president next year based on the new relations that may occur.
US security and foreign policy is not an issue that can be taken lightly. The next presidential term will have to decide which side to be on, whether to side with the tyrannies of the world to protect itself and the rest of the world or to side with the toughest dictatorships in both hemispheres.