Bolivia has publicly supported Iran’s nuclear power program with statements from various government officials. In September 2008, Bolivia’s president, Juan Evo Morales, told Iran’s Press TV that Bolivia “rejected the intervention of the United Nations Security Council in Iran’s nuclear program, saying it ‘lacks any legal or technical justification.’” In June 2008, Gonzalo Lazcano Murillo, a member of Bolivia’s parliament, claimed that Iran was only developing “peaceful and scientific” civilian nuclear technology. Trade and energy agreements between La Paz and Tehran in September 2007 established the two countries’ recent close relationship and underlined Bolivia’s support for Iran’s nuclear program, with declarations supporting “the rights of developing nations to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.”
Iran and Bolivia recently began pursuing more extensive trade and diplomatic relations, signing a trade and energy agreement in September 2007. Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pledged $1 billion in aid to Bolivia during his visit to the country, after which President Morales said that Bolivia relied on Iran’s help in industry, production, and capital investment. Iranian investment in industrial projects in Bolivia includes dairy factories and agriculture mining and hydroelectric dams, and scholarships funding study in Iran for Bolivian students. Iran has also sent a number of delegations to Bolivia to help with mining and joint industrial projects. After the US suspended its tax-exempt privileges in December 2008 for failing to meet anti-narcotic requirements, Morales said he would seek alternative markets in Iran and China. In May 2009, the Iranian head of the Iran-Bolivia Parliamentary Friendship Group, Arsalan Fathi-Pour, told Bolivian Minister of Rural Development and Lands Julia Ramos Sanchez that Iran is ready to transfer its knowledge of development and agriculture to Bolivia. In addition to smaller industrial projects, Iran has begun to help Bolivia develop its gas industry: although Bolivia possesses the largest gas reserves in Latin America, it has failed to tap its energy trade potential.  Beyond unilateral investment in Bolivia, Iran has cooperated in several joint ventures with Bolivia’s powerful neighbor, Venezuela, providing, for example, a $230 million loan to help Bolivia establish a cement company.
Iran and Bolivia have deepened their diplomatic relationship since Bolivian President Evo Morales first met Iranian President Ahmadinejad when Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez first introduced the two in September 2007. As Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency reported in June 2008, “President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s last year  visit to Bolivia opened a new chapter in expanding relations between the two countries.” Iran has repeatedly stated that it intends to further its ties with Bolivia and many of its neighbors. In addition, Bolivia has moved its only embassy in the Middle East from Egypt to Iran, and Iran has announced the opening of its new embassy in Bolivia.  President Ahmadinejad has paid several more state visits to meet publicly with President Morales since his 2007.  Morales has in turn paid several state visits to Tehran and declared his country’s support for Ahmadinejad’s “stance against imperialism.”  This support extended to international relations during the conflict in Gaza in January 2009, when Morales expressed his solidarity with Iran in support of Gaza and severed relations with Israel. In May 2009, Ahmadinejad was scheduled to visit Bolivia as well as Brazil and Venezuela in a large tour of the region, however the trip was canceled just before the Iranian president’s departure, and Ahmadinejad traveled to Syria instead.