That's the best I can make of this:
President Hugo Chávez yesterday hinted that Venezuela could try to become a nuclear power, during a visit to Russia apparently timed to antagonise the White House.
Mr Chávez defended Iran's right to pursue a nuclear programme and said it might be a good idea if Venezuela eventually did the same thing. Speaking before an audience of communists and other elements hostile to America, Mr Chávez said: "Iran has a right to have a peaceful atomic energy industry, as it is a sovereign country.
The Bush administration seems to have decided that the best thing they can do to undermine Chavez is to ignore him. While US officials at one time responded to everything Chavez said or did in an effort to convince Latin American allies to ignore him, they have since realized that the attention was like mother's milk to dear Hugo.
Now Chavez gets the silent treatment from Washington, even as Venezuela continues to fall apart. (Check out Fausta's superb coverage.) But it's harder to demagogue and portray yourself as George Bush's number one bane, if the folks in Washington, DC, don't say anything about you. And since nothing else he's done has gotten him the attention he needs, Chavez starts talking about a nuclear program like Iran's. He'll protest that he's talking about a peaceful program, but he knows that there's only one way it can be interpreted in Washington. And that's the way he wants it to be read, of course.
The timing of the comment is well-chosen to attract maximum attention on the eve of Bush & Putin's Kennebunkport meeting. Chavez knows that his arms buys from Russia are bound to be a topic of conversation; he hopes that his nuclear ambitions might warrant some discussion as well. And if one of the principals will just tell the New York Times about it...
I doubt he'll follow through on this, ultimately. If Washington seriously suspected that he was pursuing nuclear ambitions, it would move him from 'gadfly' to 'threat,' and that's the last thing he wants. He knows that the day that Washington is forced to deal with him could be his last.