Context, context, context!

Think too much has been made of Chavez’s “christ-killer” remarks? The devil is in the context…

1. Iran said it will resume nuclear fuel research today,

despite Western warnings it could jeopardise any efforts to end the long-running standoff over Tehran’s nuclear programme. The EU has warned the move would jeopardise any resumption of wider talks on ending the crisis with the West over Iran’s nuclear activities.

Mohamed ElBaradei, the usually cool-headed boss of the UN’s nuclear watchdog, said that by resuming nuclear fuel research in defiance of previous agreements, Tehran could have crossed a “red line” that made a tough response inevitable. “We are at a stage where what is happening this week could turn into a major crisis,” ElBaradei told the BBC.

2. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was expected to convene a conference in Iran within a few days dedicated to denying the Holocaust.

In response, Israel began preparing for a campaign targeted at eliciting international condemnation of the conference.

The Israeli Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Centre said Wednesday it viewed with ‘growing concern’ what it termed Iran’s continued Holocaust denial and called on the international community to act ‘to prevent genocidal intentions from becoming genocidal capabilities’.

3. Venezuela and Iran have agreed to explore setting up a joint shipbuilding operation

in the South American country, Venezuela’s state oil company said Friday. The preliminary agreement signed Monday envisions jointly building oil tankers, liquid natural gas tankers and other vessels, and training Venezuelans in shipbuilding technology.

Ties between the two oil-producing countries have tightened as President Hugo Chavez has sought to build international alliances to counter U.S. economic and political dominance. The two governments have signed dozens of agreements, including plans for a cement company, an auto parts plant and a project to build 10,000 homes in Venezuela. On Monday, they agreed to jointly survey and certify heavy crude deposits in Venezuela’s oil-rich Orinoco river belt.