A supposedly secret report by the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry, which accuses the Bolivian and Venezuelan governments of selling uranium to Iran for its nuclear program, has been leaked to Associated Press. Venezuela has responded by reiterating its support for all cooperation agreements it has with Iran and by criticizing media’s constant demonization of its government.
Israel and the United States accuse Iran of using uranium to develop nuclear weapons, while Iran says its nuclear program is for energy purposes only. The United States is the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons (on Japan at the end of World War II). According to the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, the US currently has a stockpile of 5,535 nuclear weapons, while Israel is reported to have 60-400 nuclear weapons, although it refuses to confirm or deny this.
Israel wrote the three page report for the meeting of the Organisation of American States (OAS) next week. The private media in Venezuela, Bolivia, Spain, and internationally have used the report to massively circulate headlines such as “Venezuela and Bolivia Sell Uranium to Iran.”
The report quotes Israeli intelligence documents alleging that Bolivia and Venezuela are providing Iran with uranium, but does not say where the uranium comes from. According to the Jewish news agency JTA, the report said that Bolivia has uranium deposits and that Venezuela has an estimated “50,000 tons of untapped uranium reserves that reportedly it is not mining currently.”
Associated Press cited a report published in December by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace which suggests that Venezuela’s recent collaboration with Iran in the creation of joint mining companies “has generated speculation that Venezuela could mine uranium for Iran.”
Associated Press said the report accuses Venezuela of issuing permits that allow Iranians to travel freely in South America, and concludes that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is trying to undermine the United States by supporting Iran and that Venezuela and Bolivia are violating the United Nations Security Council’s economic sanctions with their aid to Iran.
The Venezuelan radio station YVKE called the Israeli report “a new attack by the Israeli government against progressive South American nations who maintain strong bonds of friendship and cooperation with Iran.”
YVKE quoted Israeli Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs, Danny Ayalon, who wrote the document, as saying after the leak, “We see a strategic alliance between Chavez and [Iranian president] Ahmadinejad, and this is something very dangerous because it undermines stability… in the whole world.” He continued, “I suppose the responsible countries won’t allow such a strategic alliance to continue… if [Venezuela, Bolivia, and Iran] aren’t stopped they’ll have a very powerful capacity to foment terrorism and to kill people.”
The Israeli army has killed at least 2000 Palestinians since 2005, according to United Nations statistics.
ChÃ¡vez has consistently advocated new regional and international organizations that promote peace and are not dominated by the US In an interview with Iranian TV in 2007, ChÃ¡vez explained that before he was elected, the Venezuelan government didn’t have control over its foreign policies, which “were dictated by Washington.”
“Today we are independent and have developed a completely independent policy, total sovereignty. We regard our relations with Russia, Belarus and Iran as fundamental and important,” Chavez said.
Chavez last visited Iran in April this year, when the two countries opened a joint bank and deepened their bilateral cooperation in areas of food, energy, education, culture, science and technology. They also discussed the creation of joint mining companies. Chavez said during the visit, “We, the countries of the South, need to create some transnational companies that unite us, to confront the power of the transnationals of capitalism.”
In response to the report and the media coverage of it, Venezuelan legislator Mario Isea reiterated the Venezuelan National Assembly’s unconditional support for all the projects and agreements that Venezuela has with Iran and also urged that Venezuela deepen its energy cooperation with Iran.
Isea said he saw the report and its coverage by the press as a new offensive meant to “demonize the relations between Iran and Venezuela,” and emphasized the Venezuelan government’s commitment to promoting a “multipolar world based on solidarity and cooperation.”
Chavez, speaking from Brazil where he is meeting with the Brazilian president, Luiz Lula, said, “They accuse our government of things all the time – that we’re a drug smuggling paradise, that we protect terrorists…” Then Chavez invited the leaders of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) to create institutions that put out reports that “aren’t subjugated to the interests of the major powers… so that we can have our own voice.”
Chavez said, “Enough with the North condemning us and… putting us against the wall.”
A Bolivian presidential minister, Juan Quintana, called the report a “barbarity” and assured that the Bolivian government is not selling Iran uranium. He said Bolivia’s relationship with Iran is “totally transparent” and involves industrialization projects.
“To what confused person could it occur that Bolivia is developing technology or is promoting and cooperating with the nuclear development of Iran? We’re scarcely starting to get basic industry going,” Quintana concluded.
The Bolivian mining director, Freddy Beltran, said that Bolivia did have reserves of uranium but they aren’t being mined.
Both Bolivia and Venezuela cut diplomatic ties with Israel at the end of last year and the beginning of this year in response to Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip.
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This post was written by Tamara Pearson