Bolivia denies supplying Iran with uranium

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Bolivia denies supplying Iran with uranium

LA PAZ,– Bolivia denied supplying uranium to Iran for its nuclear program, saying Tuesday it has never produced the metallic element, a key ingredient for nuclear energy and weapons.

Mining Minister Luis Alberto Echazu dismissed allegations in a secret Israeli government report, saying “there isn’t even a geological study (of uranium deposits), much less export” of uranium to another country.

The secret Israeli Foreign Ministry document, obtained by The Associated Press on Monday, cites previous Israeli intelligence assessments saying “there are reports that Venezuela supplies Iran with uranium for its nuclear program” and that “Bolivia also supplies uranium to Iran.”

Bolivia’s Foreign Ministry plans to formally respond to the accusation, Echazu said. Venezuela’s government has yet to comment on the report.

Bolivia has some uranium deposits but they aren’t being exploited, said mining director Freddy Beltran, a subordinate of the mining minister who handles technical issues. His comments were published Tuesday by the Bolivian daily La Razon.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Bolivian President Evo Morales have built close ties with Iran and opposed Israeli and U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

Venezuela expelled Israeli diplomats in January to protest Israel’s Gaza offensive, and Israel responded by kicking out Venezuelan envoys. Bolivia also severed ties with Israel over the fighting.

Israel’s three-page report about Iranian activities in Latin America was prepared before a visit to the region by Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who plans to attend a meeting of the Organization of American States in Honduras next week. It did not say where the alleged uranium originated from.

Israel says Iran is building nuclear weapons, but Iran says its nuclear work is intended only to produce energy.


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