Bolivia denies WikiLeaks on uranium deal with Iran

Leaked cables said Bolivia agreed to allow Iran to exploit uranium deposits.

La Paz: Bolivia`s leftist government has denied it had agreed to allow Iran to exploit its uranium deposits, as reported by US diplomatic cables released by WikiLeaks.

"There`s nothing there. You know President (Evo Morales) and his planning minister travelled (to Iran) two months ago, but as the official report stated, there was absolutely nothing about" a uranium agreement, said government spokesman Ivan Canelas.

The cable from the US embassy in Peru to the State Department in Washington dates from August 2009, preceding Morales` visit mentioned by Canelas. The cable mentions US concern over Iran seeking uranium from Bolivia and Venezuela.

Iran has been striking closer relations with leftist Latin American governments, including Bolivia. Morales late last month announced Iran would help Bolivia build a nuclear plant for peaceful purposes, prompting more concern from Washington.

Morales at the time said he had nothing to hide about the deal to build a nuclear power plant in his country and slammed critics for readily linking such facilities to nuclear weapons.

Iran`s own nuclear energy program has been a source of controversy since Iran has rejected inspections by UN nuclear watchdog IAEA meant to allay international fears it could be concealing an atomic weapons program.

Bolivia is also negotiating the purchase of Iranian planes and helicopters for the Bolivian Air Force`s pilot training program.

Morales has visited Iran in 2008 -- when the two countries struck up diplomatic relations -- and 2009, while Iran`s Mahmoud Ahmadinejad travelled to Bolivia in 2007 for the first visit by an Iranian president.

Morales, a leftist closely allied to anti-US leader Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, has fraught relations with Washington after having kicked out the US ambassador to Bolivia in 2008.

The more than 250,000 documents leaked by whistle-blower website WikiLeaks also included a January cable from the US embassy in Brazil saying Morales has a "serious tumour" in his nose requiring surgery.