Israel: Ties to South America aiding Iran's nuclear program
Official Foreign Ministry report obtained by Ynet details extensive ties Tehran has forged in Latin America with help of Venezuela', which also provides Tehran with uranium; dossier further claims Islamic Republic setting up Hizbullah cells in South America
Venezuela is helping Iran circumvent the Security Council's economic sanctions and is also suspected of providing Tehran with uranium, while Hizbullah is setting up terror cells in south America, this according to an official Foreign Ministry document obtained by Ynet.
Next week Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon is expected to visit South America ahead of FM Avigdor Lieberman's tour of the region.
As part of the preparations for Lieberman's trip, the Foreign Ministry drafted a detailed dossier on Iran's activities in South America, which have been expanded amid the sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic by the West.
The report, which is based on information gathered by military and diplomatic sources around the world, both Israeli and foreign, claims that Iran had begun its infiltration of Latin America as early as 1982, when it forged ties with Cuba. Over the years Tehran opened embassies in Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Chile, Venezuela and Uruguay. The dossier also mentions Iran's involvement in the terror attacks on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992 and on the AMIA Jewish community center in the Argentinean capital in 1994.
Israel and the rest of the western world is particularly concerned with the reports claiming that Venezuela has been supplying Iran with uranium designated for its nuclear program and that Tehran has been setting up Hizbullah terror cells in north Venezuela and in Margarita Island, which is also under Venezuelan control.
The Foreign Ministry report says, "Since (Iranian President Mahmoud) Ahmadinejad's rise to power Tehran has been promoting an aggressive policy aimed at bolstering its ties with Latin American countries with the declared goal of 'bringing America to its knees'."
Extensive ties. Chavez (L) with Ahmadinejad (Photo: AFP)
Ministry officials explain that Ahmadinejad and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez share a common interest – to defy the United States. The countries have signed more than 200 agreements, set up a direct flight route that regularly serves "Iranian technicians" and also established a $200 billion fund aimed at garnering the support of more South American countries for the cause of "liberation from the American imperialism," according to the report.
The Foreign Ministry's report further claims that Chavez contributed to the strengthening of ties between Tehran, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua by inviting Ahmadinejad to presidential inauguration ceremonies that were held in these countries. The Ministry also suspects Bolivia of providing Iran with uranium.
According to the report, Venezuala has issued permits that allow Iranian residents to travel freely throughout all of South America.
The Ministry also details the economic ties between Tehran and South America. According to the report, trade between Brazil and Iran is estimated at a billion dollars; Uruguay sells $100 million worth of rice to Iran, while Chile purchases Iranian oil.
Pro-American countries such as Honduras, the Dominican Republic and Guatemala, who receive aid from Venezuela, may also be subject to Iranian influence, the report says, adding that even Argentina is steadily increasing its trade relations with Iran.
The Foreign Ministry is calling on the Israeli government to educate the South American countries on Iran's human rights violations, claiming that the issue is "of great interest" to South American regimes.