Iranian Defense Minister Mohammad Reza Ashtiani has signed a memorandum of understanding with his Bolivian counterpart, according to reports from Iranian pro-regime media this week.
Tehran earlier said it could meet Bolivia’s “demands for defense equipment and advanced technologies to help it counter threats,” the reports said.
“We maintain that improving the bilateral defense relations will lead to increasing the Bolivian government’s deterrence power,” Ashtiani was quoted as saying earlier this week by the Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA), the country’s official news agency. Iran said the countries have “common enemies,” a lightly veiled reference to the United States.
A bilateral cooperation memorandum was signed last Thursday between the two defense ministers, Iran’s pro-regime Fars News Agency reported.
Iran's outreach to South America
As part of Tehran’s outreach to South America, it showed Iran’s “achievements” in defense and border security to Bolivia, the report said.
Iran currently exports drones to Russia and produces missiles, but it was not clear what else Iran makes that it would be able to ship to Bolivia.
Tehran expects that some export controls and sanctions on defense products will lift in October.
Iran also hosted Bolivian Defense Minister Edmundo Novillo Aguilar, who said his country faces hurdles from drug smuggling and border controls.
Tehran, however, helps to fuel drug smuggling in South America and in the Middle East, and it has a history of empowering proxies that cross borders illegally. That means it is unclear if Iran has expertise in stopping the very things it is fueling.
Iran’s president has recently sought to do outreach in Africa and South America, all within the context of greater cooperation among Iran, Russia, and China and their attempts to upend the US-led global order.