The Nicaraguan regime of Daniel Ortega-Rosario Murillo defended the right of each country to develop nuclear weapons in a meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in Managua on February 2, Nicaragua state-owned news site El 19 Digital reported.
“In this world what should be done is for all [countries] to look for ways to have our own ‘little nuclear weapon’ so that they respect us,” Ortega said during the live broadcast of the meeting with the Iranian minister, alluding to the United States. “This way they show respect, when they know that that [country] they want to crush has nuclear weapons.”
“This statement should be regarded as insane,” Napoleón Campos, a Salvadoran foreign relations expert, told Diálogo on February 20. “To insinuate that Nicaragua could come to have an atomic weapon is part of the delusion of a tyrant like Ortega, to always maintain that climate of generalized fear and terror.”
Ortega made this comment as he backed the nuclear programs of North Korea and Iran, EFE news agency reported, referring to the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which put strict limits on Iran’s development of sensitive nuclear activities in exchange for lifting sanctions. In 2018, the U.S. withdrew from the deal and reimposed stringent sanctions.
In August 2022, the European Union presented a final text to revive the deal with U.S. support, but Iran rejected it, making it a condition that the United Nations (U.N.) nuclear monitor close the investigation into the finding of enriched uranium in undeclared sites in Iran.
Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, according to the U.S. Department of State. Its nuclear provocation, its advances in the production of highly enriched uranium, documented by the International Atomic Energy Agency, have been exacerbating regional and global tensions.
“If Iran is interested in Nicaragua, it would have to be to have another ‘little client’ for its military industry in Latin America,” Campos said. “We should remember that Russia used Iranian military drones to attack Ukraine. So their story goes, with a clear message to the United States and the European Union.”
Nuclear weapons are the most dangerous weapons on Earth. A single one can destroy an entire city, potentially killing millions of people and endangering the environment and the lives of future generations through its long-term catastrophic effects, the U.N. Office for Disarmament Affairs indicates on its webpage.
There are roughly some 13,000 nuclear weapons in the world today, while more than 2,000 nuclear tests have been carried out, the U.N. said. Between 2006 and 2017 North Korea conducted six nuclear tests, declaring itself a nuclear weapons state in 2022, the BBC reported.
“Every extreme position or decision of the Ortega-Murillo family further isolates Nicaragua,” Campos said. “We are here with tyrants who […] also use the threat of possessing a weapon of important dimensions, to place themselves in this very serious international scenario where they believe there is a lot at play.”
“Iran is being an opportunist and uses Ortega because he allows it. But the fact that Nicaragua would find in North Korea or Iran an investment partner like the United States is completely absurd,” Campos added.
No country in Latin America has nuclear weapons. In 1967, Latin American and Caribbean nations drafted the Treaty of Tlatelolco, in Mexico, which prohibits the development, acquisition, testing, and deployment of nuclear weapons in that region of the world, the BBC reported.
“The Ortega-Murillo regime is violating, even in rhetoric, the Treaty of Tlatelolco, to which Nicaragua is a signatory,” Campos said. “This is a very serious point, because Ortega cannot, not even through chit-chat, threaten to acquire an atomic bomb.”
According to Campos, the Nicaraguan regime is violating the Organization of American States’ Framework Treaty on Democratic Security in Central America, which seeks to consolidate peace, freedom, democracy, and development in the region. Article 46 of this treaty reaffirms the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, and Stockpiling of Bacteriological, Biological, and Toxic Weapons and on their Destruction, adopted in Tlatelolco.
“The so-called peace that Nicaragua is experiencing is the peace of the dead, the peace of exile, of dispossession, and the peace of the boot and the rifle,” Campos concluded. “I feel sorry that Nicaragua has fallen into this terrible cycle and also that these tyrannical appetites are meaning to violate international law.”