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Iranian Revolutionary Guard Sets Up Shop in Nicaragua

In today's New York Sun, Todd Bensman reports on the new joint Iranian-Venezuelan adventure in Nicaragua: a "deep-sea port" on the Nicaraguan shores of the Gulf of Mexico.

Until recently, one local boxer's fortune was about the only story preoccupying the 300-odd Creole of Monkey Point. But perspectives broadened suddenly in March when Iranians and Venezuelans showed up aboard Nicaraguan military helicopters. They had come to scope out Monkey Point's bay for transformation to a $350 million deep-water shipping port. The port idea is part a new diplomatic relationship between Iran and the Sandinista revolutionary president, Daniel Ortega, that has flown largely under American press and broadcast radar since its August announcement. Iran has since issued fantastic promises that would include financing a rail, road, and pipeline "dry canal" from Monkey Point to an upgraded Port of Corinto on the Pacific, hydroelectric projects, and 10,000 houses in between.

With its latest diplomatic partnership with a time-tested American nemesis, Iran is now just a few porous borders away from President Bush's home state of Texas. All this matters because of fears the Islamic Republic can now project a threat close to America's borders and Mexico's petroleum infrastructure in the event of severe enough sanctions or even war.

I went to Nicaragua recently to see how all this is was playing out, and to take advantage of the fact that no American reporter had yet bothered. A visit made sense because so much has been written about a state sponsor of global terrorism like Iran deepening relations with Venezuela's America-hating president, Hugo Chavez. The only question is whether, in the event of war, Iran could deploy its Hezbollah and Revolutionary Guard agents to hit American interests or allies in South America. It's been done before, under the cover of Iran's embassies, to Jewish targets in Argentina, Americans in Iraq, and perceived enemies elsewhere around the world.

Members of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), recently designated a terrorist entity by the United States, are already filtering into Nicaragua. The imperative of the IRGC is to "spread the (Khomeinist) revolution," and they are now securing operational territory closer to Houston, Texas (our primary energy port) than Boston is to Phoenix.

Read all of Iranians Plant Their Flag In Wilds of Nicaragua in the New York Sun.