Venezuela, Boliva accused of giving uranium to Iran
JERUSALEM - Venezuela and Bolivia are supplying Iran with uranium for its nuclear program, according to a secret Israeli government report obtained yesterday by the Associated Press.
The two South American countries are known to have close ties with Iran, but this is the first allegation that they are involved in the development of Iran's nuclear program, considered a strategic threat by Israel.
"There are reports that Venezuela supplies Iran with uranium for its nuclear program," the Foreign Ministry document states, referring to previous Israeli intelligence conclusions. It added, "Bolivia also supplies uranium to Iran."
The report concludes that President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela is trying to undermine the United States by supporting Iran.
Venezuela and Bolivia are close allies, and both regimes have a history of opposing US foreign policy and Israeli actions. Venezuela expelled the Israeli ambassador during Israel's offensive in Gaza this year, and Israel retaliated by expelling the Venezuelan envoy. Bolivia cut ties with Israel over the offensive.
There was no immediate comment from officials in Venezuela or Bolivia on the allegations.
The three-page document about Iranian activities in Latin America was prepared in advance of a visit to South America by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who will attend a conference of the Organization of American States in Honduras next week. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is also scheduled to visit the region.
Israel considers Iran a threat because of its nuclear program, development of long-range missiles, and frequent references by its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, to Israel's destruction. Israel dismisses Iran's insistence that its nuclear program is peaceful, charging that the Iranians are building nuclear weapons.
Iran says its nuclear work is aimed only at producing energy. Its enrichment of uranium has increased concerns about its program because that technology can be used both to produce fuel for power plants and to build bombs.