LA PAZ – Bolivia will buy military airplanes and helicopters from Tehran under an agreement signed during the visit of President Evo Morales to Iran last week, the government said Sunday.
“We have expressed ... our interest in buying some airplanes and helicopters of Iranian manufacture, which are basically for training,” Economy and Finance Minister Luis Arce told state media.
The airplanes include the FAJR-3, S-68 and the Iran-140, of which Arce said only that the third can transport 52 people, and the helicopters will be four-seat versions. He added that all the aircraft will be used to train Bolivian Air Force pilots.
Included in the same agreement, the minister said, is a provision for Iranian technicians to come to Bolivia to perform maintenance on the military aircraft.
Bolivia’s current fleet of military aircraft comes from the United States.
During Morales’ visit, the two nations also signed documents concerning Iran’s interest in teaming up with Bolivia to manufacture lithium batteries in the Uyuni Salt Flats, in the Andean province of Potosi.
In addition, Iran offered to cooperate with Morales in establishing in Bolivia a nuclear energy plant for peaceful purposes.
Arce said on Sunday that during his visit the two countries did not negotiate or discuss anything concerning uranium, because Bolivia has no studies or research in hand regarding what its reserves of that substance might be.
“We still haven’t talked about uranium. I think that we’re still not in shape to do so. We have to make studies, analyses and investigations to be able to speak about uranium,” the minister said.
The manager of the vanishing resources division of the Mining Ministry, Luis Alberto Echazu, who is in charge of lithium development, said Sunday – however – that there is a uranium deposit in Cotaje, Potosi, and small quantities of the radioactive element were extracted from there in 1974.