August 1, 2023 Special Dispatch No. 10735

As Bolivia Obtains Iranian Drones, South American News Outlets Affiliated With Iran And Hizbullah Focus On Bolivian Lithium Reserves – A Key Resource For Iran's Nuclear Program

August 1, 2023
Iran, Lebanon | Special Dispatch No. 10735

On July 21, 2023, the Lebanese propaganda platform for Iran and Hizbullah, Al-Mayadeen, posted to its Telegram channel an article saying Bolivia has the largest lithium reserve on the planet. The article claimed that "together with Argentina and Chile, Bolivia is home to 85 percent of the world's lithium reserves," stressing that the metal is essential in the development of batteries for mobile phones and other portable devices, as well as electric vehicles. Lithium also happens to be a key strategic metal with applications for nuclear weapons development,[1] a fact carefully not mentioned by the Lebanese news outlet. The article instead focused on lithium's uses in the transition to a global 'green economy.'"[2]

The article was published a day after Bolivia signed an agreement with Iran to obtain Iranian drones, hinting that in exchange Bolivia may have offered Iran access to its lithium. Similar articles were published by Iran-backed outlets HispanTV and Al-Manar in the weeks prior to the agreement.

Bolivia made Iran a "partner" in the mining and exploitation of its lithium in 2010, after a series of cooperation agreements were reached between Tehran and La Paz.[3] Ever since, Bolivia's "white gold" has featured prominently in Iranian-affiliated media outlets' news about the South American country.

Articles published by HispanTV, Al-Manar, and Al-Mayadeen usually focus on Bolivia's agreements with Russian and Chinese companies to mine its lithium,[4] a stealth cover-up for Iran's own interest and agreements with Bolivia. Articles also furtively avoid mentioning any connection to nuclear energy, focusing instead on Bolivia's rejection of the U.S.'s alleged predatory attempts to control and profit from the country's natural resources.[5]

It is worth noting that Bolivia's agreement to obtain Iranian drones, an alleged effort to enhance Bolivia's border security and fight drug trafficking,[6] coincided with the 29th anniversary of the bombing of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, the 1994 terrorist attack which claimed 85 lives. Argentinian authorities have long maintained that Iranian officials, in conjunction with Hizbullah, were the perpetrators of the attack. Nevertheless, Iran has always denied its involvement.

HispanTV Denies Iranian Involvement In 1994 Buenos Aires AMIA Jewish Community Center Terror Attack

On July 26, 2023, HispanTV published an Instagram post stating: "Bolivia confirms its interest in Iranian drones [is] to use them to protect its borders and combat smuggling and drug trafficking." The post's photo features Bolivian Defense Minister Edmundo Novillo Aguilar shaking hands with his Iranian counterpart, Mohamad Reza Ashtiani, holding up the signed agreement.[7] Notably, on Instagram HispanTV only stated that Bolivia had expressed interest in an agreement, while on its more private Telegram channel, HispanTV admitted an agreement had effectively been signed between the two countries.[8]

A few days prior to the signing of the new security agreement with Bolivia, HispanTV published a series of posts denying Iran's and Hizbullah's involvement in the 1994 AMIA bombing. For example, on July 18, HispanTV published an Instagram post titled, "Zionist lobby continues to use AMIA case to politically persecute Iran."[9]

On Jul 19, HispanTV posted an interview on Instagram featuring Abdul Karim Paz, director of the At-Tawhid Mosque and one of Argentina's most prominent Shi'ite sheikhs, speaking on subject of the AMIA bombing.[10] The former director of the same At-Tawhid Mosque, Mohsen Rabbani,[11] was singled out by Argentinian prosecutor Alberto Nisman as the mastermind behind the 1994 AMIA bombings. Nisman described the mosque as the place where Iranian officials plotted the attack, in conjunction with Hizballah. Today, Rabbani's indoctrinated[12] and appointed successor, Abdul Karim Paz, tries to maintain a low profile while still serving as the mosque's director.

A similar interview was also posted by HispanTV on July 20.[13] In both interviews the speakers staunchly affirm Iran had nothing to do with the attack, and that all the evidence was manipulated by the U.S. and Israel, who have been unable to provide proof to back accusations that Iran was responsible.

Another article, posted to Instagram by HispanTV on July 20 was titled: "What did Iran have to do with the attack on AMIA?"[14]

While posting all this content in the week of the 29th anniversary of the AMIA attack, HispanTV continued to openly showcase its connection to the Iran-backed Lebanese Hizbullah, posting a number of articles on the group's recent alleged achievements in its fight against Israel.[15]

Iranian Presence In Bolivia

According to former Argentinian Foreign Minister Jorge Faurie, the Iranian drones given to Bolivia are intended for use by Iran for intelligence activities, not, as alleged, for Bolivia's fight against drug trafficking. These Iranian efforts may impact Argentina again, as in 1994.

In this regard, it is also important to remember that in 2011, Bolivia's President Evo Morales inaugurated an "Anti-Imperialist Military School" in a ceremony reportedly presided over by Iranian Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi, who was accused by the Argentine justice system of being the ideological co-author of the AMIA attack.[16]

In 2012, regional officials estimated that between 50 and 300 Iranian "trainers" were present in Bolivia, carrying out training and indoctrination activities at the facility.[17] The "Regional Defense School" is located outside Santa Cruz, in the region where it is believed Iran is extracting uranium from as many as 11 different sites.[18] Not coincidentally, in 2018 Venezuela's national airline Conviasa inaugurated a direct air route between Caracas and Santa Cruz , which in 2022 was further extended to Teheran.

On March 1, 2019, Al-Manar Español posted on Telegram an image of Bolivian President Morales at the 2011 inauguration ceremony of the Anti-Imperialist International Military School in Bolivia.[19]


[1], Feb 16, 2012.

[2] Tme/almayadeenespanol/57487, July 21, 2023.

[3], October 30, 2010.

[4], June 29, 2023.

[5], June 22, 2023.

[6], July 20, 2023.

[7], Jul 25, 2023.

[8], July 20, 2023.

[9], Jul 18, 2023.

[10], Jul 19, 2023.

[11] Rabbani used to serve as Iran's Principal Proselytizer in Latin America, and was singled out by Nisman for having facilitated two attacks in Buenos Aires in 1994 and 1997. He later returned to Iran, where he remains today, without facing repercussions.

[12], accessed August 1, 2023.

[13], Jul 20, 2023.

[14], Jul 20, 2023.

[15], Jul 13, 2023.

[16], Jan 19, 2020.

[17], Feb 16, 2012.

[18], Feb 16, 2012.

[19], Mar 1, 2019.

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