| By Jeremy McDermott |
BBC News, Caracas
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has announced that he wants to develop a nuclear programme with the aid of his country's ally, Russia.
Mr Chavez emphasised that he wanted nuclear power only for peaceful ends, citing energy and medical purposes.
But the announcement, on top of large weapons purchases, is likely to feed growing concern about the increasing Venezuelan military power.
Venezuela has spent $4bn on Russian arms and plans to buy more from China.
The controversial Venezuelan leader's statement that he wanted nuclear capability only for energy and medical purposes may not reassure his neighbours like Colombia, or even the United States.
Mr Chavez has made his dislike of the Bush administration well known.
He has cultivated ties with nations, like Iran, which are not known for their friendly feelings towards Washington.
Mr Chavez has publicly called for the Colombian rebels to lay down their arms.
However, intelligence reports suggest that Colombia's two main rebel groups - including the Farc - continue to have bases on the Venezuelan side of the border and more with relative impunity, sources within Colombia's defence ministry told me.
Published: 2008/09/29 05:22:18 GMT
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