The defense ministers of Iran and Bolivia signed an agreement to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the areas of defense and security.
Speaking at the ceremony on Thursday, Iranian Defense Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani emphasized the significance of Latin American nations in Iran's foreign and defense policy. He claimed that these countries occupy a special place in Iran's strategic outlook, prompting the desire to forge closer ties with Bolivia in particular.
“In light of Bolivia's critical requirements in border defense and the fight against drug trafficking, we actively sought to establish collaborations in equipment and expertise with the country. This cooperative endeavor has the potential to serve as a pioneering model for other nations in South America,” Ashtiani said.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Defense of Bolivia, Edmundo Novillo Aguilar, acknowledged his country's concerns regarding drug smuggling and border control, highlighting the importance of external cooperation to address these pressing issues effectively.
Iran's pursuit of defense partnerships in the region has raised eyebrows due to its historically opaque behavior on the international stage. There are fears that the motives behind these engagements might extend beyond genuine cooperation and could involve the export of radical ideologies and the dissemination of unconventional arms and technologies.
Of particular concern is Iran's track record of supporting extremist groups and engaging in proxy warfare in other parts of the world. There are apprehensions that Iran may seek to exploit defense cooperation with South American nations as a means to advance its interests, extend its influence, and potentially interfere in regional affairs. Its growing encroachment on the continent is of particular worry to the US.