Trading with Tehran

Iran is considered a pariah state across much of the West but Latin America has been less cautious in its approach to developing bilateral relations with Tehran. Venezuela has acted as its primary interlocutor with the rest of the region, but ties appear to be deepening elsewhere too.

A former Bolivian diplomat and former ambassador to several leading multilateral institutions explained, “The war in Ukraine has undoubtedly moved the international board, accelerating trends of which Iran is a key piece. Latin America’s relations with Tehran are tepid given Washington’s influence in the region but many are waiting to see whether warmer overtures from the Biden administration could enable them to deepen ties with Iran, especially if the US agrees a nuclear deal.”

“Latin America’s relations with Tehran are tepid given Washington’s influence in the region but many are waiting to see whether warmer overtures from the Biden administration could enable them to deepen ties with Iran, especially if the US agrees a nuclear deal.”

Former Bolivian diplomat

The US president’s recent trip to Saudi Arabia was a blow to such hopes and Iran has moved closer to Russia during the Ukraine conflict. The meeting with the Ayatollahs and Putin was very symbolic and thus Washington is likely to remain cool, if not hostile in its approach toward Tehran. Iran’s relations with Latin America will depend on how much the US is willing to relax their sanctions.

An Argentine geopolitical expert and researcher explains Iran’s role in today’s world economy and politics, “Iran is a regional power. In economic size, it is the second in the Middle East, only below Saudi Arabia. Iran also exerts global power. In the multipolar order that is taking shape, there are several poles of power and Iran is projected as a contestant power that wants to lead the Middle East. In addition, there is their ideological alignment. Since the revolution of the 1970s, it has become a serious opponent to US advancement in the Middle East. Naturally, this revolutionary anti-US mentality chimes well with thinking in Caracas.”

“Since the revolution of the 1970s, it has become a serious opponent to US advancement in the Middle East. Naturally, this revolutionary anti-US mentality chimes well with thinking in Caracas.”

Geopolitical exert and researcher, Argentina

In Brazil, Lula – who has often struck a conciliatory tone with Iran – is going to have to increase his pragmatism if his camp seek to appeal to a broad base ahead of presidential elections in October. Deepening relations with an Iran that is linked to illegal and hidden activities is not good for electoral optics.

The analysis of our sources comes against the backdrop of developing relations, especially between Iran and its closest regional ally, Venezuela. This month, Caracas announced that it would allow Tehran to use one million hectares of farmland in the south of the country for cultivation. The move was announced by Iran’s deputy economy minister Mohsen Kousheshtabar, who highlighted the cooperation between the two countries and their increasingly strong alliance, indeed president Nicolas Maduro visited Tehran earlier this year – the latest of several visits since he assumed office.

The former diplomat explained, “Tehran even signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Maduro to deepen their cooperation over the next 20 years. It has already installed ammunition factories in this country, it also has an agreement with CONVIASA and its subsidiary EMTRASUR is, in the end, an Iranian airline but it operates under the Venezuelan flag. Trying to cover routes that Mahan Air cannot. It is looking to increase its presence in the region, bypassing US sanctions where it can.”

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