Bolivia and Iran’s Defense Pact Sets Off Alarm Bells in Argentina

Bolivia and Iran’s Defense Pact Sets Off Alarm Bells in Argentina
People hold up signs that read “Justice” in Spanish and pictures of the victims of the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center during a commemoration ceremony in Buenos Aires, Argentina, July 18, 2014 (AP photo by Natacha Pisarenko).

News readers in Argentina and Bolivia who stumbled across an item published late last month by Iran’s state-run news agency, IRNA, may have been startled by the headline that greeted them: “Iran, Bolivia ink defense MoU,” it read, above a picture of Iran’s defense minister, Gen. Mohammed Reza Ashtiani, and his Bolivian counterpart, Edmundo Novillo, shaking hands and holding up what were presumably the just-signed documents detailing a new bilateral agreement.

Days earlier, IRNA had reported on Novillo’s visit to Iran, quoting him as calling the Islamic Revolution “a model for Bolivia,” while Ashtiani described bilateral relations as a “strategic necessity.”

Whatever deal Iran and Bolivia made—and the details remain obscure—they constitute yet another step in Tehran’s effort to cement ties with leftist governments in Latin America. The campaign to build those relations is not new, dating back more than a decade. But it appears to have gained new momentum in recent months.

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