Under Chavez, Venezuela has cultivated ties to Iran and other nations at odds with Washington, including North Korea and Syria.
"We demand that the North American empire respect the Iranian people and the peoples of the world," Chavez said Sunday on "Hello President," his TV and radio program. "The only country that has developed atomic bombs and dropped them on entire peoples is the North American empire. ... They don't have the morality to be giving anybody lessons."
The U.N. Security Council imposed new sanctions on Iran last month over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, a process that can produce fuel for nuclear reactors or the material for atomic bombs. Washington and its allies allege that Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons, but Tehran says the program is strictly for generating electricity.
"Iran has the legitimate right to develop nuclear energy," Chavez said. A military attack on Iran "would be madness," he added. "The consequences would be terrible."