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. Iran not interested in Bolivian uranium: Tehran envoy
LA PAZ, June 3 (AFP) Jun 04, 2009
Iran is not interested in mining Bolivia's uranium, and Israel talks about this only because it wants to thwart closer ties between Iran and Latin America, Tehran's envoy to La Paz said Wednesday.

Israel suspects that the leftist governments in Bolivia and Venezuela are supplying uranium for Iran's controversial nuclear program, according to an Israeli foreign ministry document leaked to media on May 25.

"We believe that (the uranium issue) is an Israeli pretext so that we do not strengthen our relations with friendly countries like Bolivia and other countries in Latin America," Massoud Edrini told the Radio Fides network, according to comments posted on its website.

In the two meetings between Bolivian President Evo Morales and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- in September 2007 in La Paz and one year later in Tehran -- "nothing was mentioned about uranium," Edrini told Radio Fides.

Bolivia broke diplomatic ties with Israel in January over its military incursion into the Gaza Strip.

The Morales administration said it is currently impossible to export uranium because it is not being mined, though there are uranium deposits in the country.

"Bolivia does not produce uranium," said Mining Minister Luis Alberto Echazu on May 29. "The country has never produced uranium."

Bolivia has also been improving ties with Iran, which last week sent a legislative committee to La Paz to ratify a 1.2 billion dollar cooperation agreement between the two countries.

The agreement includes funds for development projects, including two cement factories.

During their 2007 meeting Morales and Ahmadinejad signed several cooperation agreements, including one to support the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes "within the framework of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)."

The United States and its European allies have pressed Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment activities, which they fear is a cover for building an atomic bomb.

Iran has pressed ahead with atomic work, in defiance of UN sanctions, insisting that their program is aimed at producing civilian nuclear energy.

Following Ahmadinejad's visit to La Paz, Bolivian vice president Alvaro Garcia said: "We will not get involved in atomic issues with Iran, we respect the decisions of the United Nations in this regard."

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