HomeNewsBriefBolivia Seizes ‘2 Tons of Uranium’ in Downtown La Paz
BRIEF

Bolivia Seizes ‘2 Tons of Uranium’ in Downtown La Paz

BOLIVIA / 31 AUG 2012 BY VICTORIA ROSSI EN

Bolivian officials walked back initial claims that two tons of radioactive uranium were seized in La Paz, saying the find contains only traces of the substance; but the discovery renews earlier questions about Bolivia’s relationship with Iran and speculations of Hezbollah influence in the area.

On August 28, Deputy Interior Minister Jorge Perez said police uncovered two tons of uranium in a garage in an upscale neighborhood near the Brazilian, British, and United States embassies. He called the minerals “radioactive” and said they were “used for building nuclear weapons,” according to El Tiempo newspaper.

Interior Minister Carlos Romero clarified Perez’s claims at a press conference later that day, saying the material contained only unconcentrated uranium. The rocks had been moved to the outskirts of La Paz and would be examined by Bolivia’s geological survey and the independent Institute for Nuclear Medicine, Romero said.

Police arrested four Bolivian nationals as they transferred the material in jute and nylon sacks between vehicles–the result of a six-week investigation, Spanish news agency EFE reported.

Officials would not say what groups were behind the alleged uranium transaction, but said the substance likely originate in Brazil or Chile.

InSight Crime Analysis

Bolivia’s southwestern Andean region has large reserves of high-grade uranium on a scale comparable to those found in Canada and Australia. This has led to speculation that Bolivia could begin supplying the raw mineral to countries with nuclear plants. In 2009 the Israeli government even claimed that the South American country had begun to supply uranium to Iran for its nuclear program.

The two countries did in fact sign a bilateral treaty in 2010 amounting to $1.2 billion in joint ventures, including mineral projects. Additionally, in June Bolivian President Evo Morales met with his Iranian counterpart to sign a new treaty in which Iran agreed to help Bolivia in its fight against drugs by providing military intelligence training and communications equipment.

Though there is evidence to suggest that Bolivia has begun extracting uranium, government officials have denied claims they are supplying the raw materials for nuclear weapons to Iran. But some analysts worry that Iran’s close ties to Latin American countries like Venezuela, Nicaragua, and now Bolivia, may have paved the way for Hezbollah influence in the area.

Compartir icon icon icon

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Tags

Related Content

BOLIVIA / 6 DEC 2010

Bolivian government spokesperson, Sacha Llorenti, announced yesterday that Peru, Bolivia and Brazil all plan to hold a meeting to coordinate…

BOLIVIA / 9 JUN 2016

Anti-narcotics agents report finding more than 1,000 clandestine landing strips in Bolivia over the past three years, illustrating…

BOLIVIA / 16 OCT 2014

Antonio* laughed as he pointed to the sign above the entrance to Bolivia's most notorious prison. "Rehabilitation centre? This is…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

We Have Updated Our Website

4 FEB 2021

Welcome to our new home page. We have revamped the site to create a better display and reader experience.

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime Events – Border Crime: The Northern Triangle and Tri-Border Area

ARGENTINA / 25 JAN 2021

Through several rounds of extensive field investigations, our researchers have analyzed and mapped out the main illicit economies and criminal groups present in 39 border departments spread across the six countries of study – the Northern Triangle trio of Guatemala, Honduras, and El…

BRIEF

InSight Crime’s ‘Memo Fantasma’ Investigation Wins Simón Bolívar National Journalism Prize

COLOMBIA / 20 NOV 2020

The staff at InSight Crime was awarded the prestigious Simón Bolívar national journalism prize in Colombia for its two-year investigation into the drug trafficker known as “Memo Fantasma,” which was…

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – From Uncovering Organized Crime to Finding What Works

COLOMBIA / 12 NOV 2020

This project began 10 years ago as an effort to address a problem: the lack of daily coverage, investigative stories and analysis of organized crime in the Americas. …

ANALYSIS

InSight Crime – Ten Years of Investigating Organized Crime in the Americas

FEATURED / 2 NOV 2020

In early 2009, Steven Dudley was in Medellín, Colombia. His assignment: speak to a jailed paramilitary leader in the Itagui prison, just south of the city. Following his interview inside…