Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Wednesday warned his government would blow up its own oil fields if the United States ever were to attack - the latest in a series of heating warnings against Washington.
US officials have repeatedly denied any military plans against Chavez, but also have called him a threat to stability in the region. Speaking to other South American leaders, Chavez said his conflict with the US is rooted in Washington's thirst for oil.
If the US were to attack, Chavez said Wednesday, "we'll do like the Iraqis. We won't have any other alternative - blow up our own oil fields, but they aren't going to take that oil."
Some Venezuelan critics suggest a US invasion is a far-fetched idea and that Chavez seeks to keep up the verbal conflict with Washington to maintain the sense of a struggle against a foreign enemy as he prepares for presidential elections in December.