President Hugo Chavez said Wednesday that his navy detected a submarine in Venezuelan waters and that it quickly sped off.
The submarine was detected on Tuesday near the Venezuelan island of La Orchila in the Caribbean north of Caracas, where Venezuelan troops are participating in training drills near the island, Chavez told state television by telephone.
"It was pursued. It escaped because it's much faster than ours," Chavez said, referring to Venezuela's diesel-powered submarines. He said that judging by its speed and size, "it's a nuclear-powered submarine."
Chavez said his government was unable to say what nation might have sent the sub. "We can't accuse anyone," Chavez said, adding that his government is investigating.
The leftist leader has long had tense relations with the United States, and has recently called the U.S. together with its European allies "the empires."
"Now you know how the empires are used to going around the Caribbean Sea and going everywhere, and they also use their satellites for espionage. It's espionage," Chavez said.
He praised Venezuelan navy troops for their handling of the incident, saying they had driven off the sub.