BOLIVIA MOVING TOWARDS FORMALIZING TIES WITH IRAN

Código Fecha Clasificación Origen
07LAPAZ2456 6 September 2007 Secreto / No para extranjeros Embassy La Paz

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DE RUEHLP #2456 2492303
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FM AMEMBASSY LA PAZ
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4894
INFO RUEHAC/AMEMBASSY ASUNCION 7050
RUEHBO/AMEMBASSY BOGOTA 4418
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 8312
RUEHBU/AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES 5542
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 2769
RUEHPE/AMEMBASSY LIMA 2950
RUEHMN/AMEMBASSY MONTEVIDEO 4831
RUEHQT/AMEMBASSY QUITO 5403
RUEHSG/AMEMBASSY SANTIAGO 0011
RUMIAAA/USCINCSO MIAMI FL
RUEHUB/USINT HAVANA 0517
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHMFISS/HQ USSOUTHCOM MIAMI FL

S E C R E T LA PAZ 002456

SIPDIS

NOFORN

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: DECL: 09/06/2017
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, ECON, BL
SUBJECT: BOLIVIA MOVING TOWARDS FORMALIZING TIES WITH IRAN

Classified By: EcoPol Chief Mike Hammer for reasons 1.4 (b) and (d)

1. (U) Bolivian press reported that President Evo Morales
signed a commercial agreement September 5 with Iran’s
Ambassador to Venezuela Abdulat Zisan (alternate "Zifan") for
the establishment of six milk processing plants. Morales
noted the "historic" commercial agreement would be a start
toward consolidating and expanding a bilateral friendship and
diplomatic relations. He added he had "no fear" to establish
relations with Iran, despite Iran’s differences with the U.S.
and characterized Bolivia as a country that would not submit
to "imperialism."

2. (U) The agreement provides Iranian technical support and
equipment, although no details or timeline were provided.
Morales said he hoped the agreement would lead to 20
Iranian-constructed plants in the future. Zisan said the
milk processing plant agreement could lead to Iranian
cooperation in the Bolivia’s hydrocarbon industry.

3. (U) Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca reportedly stated
"the world should render full support for Iran’s nuclear
rights and peaceful nuclear activities" during his current
visit to Iran (Fars News Agency). Choquehuanca is attending
a meeting of the Non-Aligned States in Iran and has held
bilateral conversations while there.


COMMENT


4. (S//NF) Although the bilateral Bolivian-Iranian
relationship has been expanding under the radar for some
time, the Bolivian government has tried to keep its growing
ties with Iran quiet until this public signing ceremony. The
Iranian official press covered an August 2006 bilateral MOU
with Bolivia, but the Bolivian government did not publicize
the MOU nor an earlier visit by Iranian diplomats in April
2006. Bolivian officials have downplayed the relationship in
meetings with Embassy La Paz and characterized it as a token
gesture to please Venezuelan President and Morales ally Hugo
Chavez. Bolivian Vice President Alvaro Garcia explicitly
told the Ambassador that Bolivia would not establish
diplomatic ties. Morales has not publicized the
Bolivian-Iranian relationship until now, probably due in
large part to the potential negative international scrutiny
such ties would invite and negative domestic reaction to an
increasing Venezuelan influence. Venezuelan President Hugo
Chavez has been trying to advance the GOB/GOI relationship
and Zisan traveled via a Venezuelan government plane.

5. (S//NF) Based on his public comments, it appears Morales
may be seriously considering establishing formal diplomatic
relations. Visiting Israeli Consul (based in Peru) recently
told us he believed Bolivia is on its way to establishing
ties. Although six milk plants is not significant, the
agreement marks a significant change in attitude since
January, when the Morales Administration passed on an Iranian
invitation for a multilateral visit to Iranian nuclear
facilities. Now not only is the Bolivian government publicly
moving forward with relations with Iran, Evo is making a
point of sticking it in our "imperialistic" eye. This is yet
another example (attacks on USAID, justice branch, pushing
opposition out of constitutional assembly process) in recent
weeks of a radicalizing Morales Administration that appears
to be listening more and more to Venezuelan advice.
GOLDBERG