CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela is building unmanned drone aircraft as part of military cooperation with Iran and other allies,President Hugo Chavez said, in a move likely to heighten U.S. anxiety over his socialist government’s role in the region.
Referring to a Spanish media report that U.S. prosecutors are investigating drone production in Venezuela, Chavez said late on Wednesday: “Of course we’re doing it, and we have the right to. We are a free and independent country.”
In a televised speech to military officers at Venezuela’s Defense Ministry, Chavez said the aircraft only has a camera and was exclusively for defensive purposes. “We don’t have any plans to harm anyone,” he said.
“We are doing this with the help of different countries including China, Russia, Iran, and other allied countries,” he added, apparently referring both to drone construction and to other projects including a munitions and weapons factory.