Why is Iran building a $200 million dam in Nicaragua

Miami Herald:

Iran's plan to build a $200 million hydroelectric dam in this energy-starved country is raising concerns here and in Washington about its mounting influence in Latin America.

The plant proposal is part of a push to wean this oil-addicted country -- 80 percent of electricity is supplied by fuel-burning plants -- off increasingly expensive crude and help stem an energy crisis that has created electricityrationing blackouts.

The dam is the latest among a handful of projects that Iran plans to build in Central America's most impoverished nation. Others include the construction of 10,000 homes for the poor, providing 4,000 farming tractors, and a joint effort with Venezuela to link deep-water container ports on the Caribbean and Pacific coasts. In turn, Nicaragua is to export coffee and other products to Iran.

But the hydroelectric dam, for which construction is to begin in 2011, faces staunch opposition from a group of cattle ranchers who say the dam would flood their pastures.

Local opposition to the dam is consolidating as U.S. officials and international observers voice concerns over how Iran might capitalize on the influence it is gaining through diplomatic efforts in leftist Latin American countries like Nicaragua, where President Daniel Ortega took office in 2007.

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There is more.

I suggest looking at a globe. Iran has missiles that could probably hit Houston from Nicaragua, which would wipe out a good portion of the US energy and refining capacity. Bringing in all the equipment to build a huge dam would make it easy to hide a few missiles in the cargo. This is certainly a more likely rationale for Iran's activity than there desire to embrace infidels in Central America when their own economy is struggling so much.

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