June 24, 2010
Chile-Iran Foreign Relations
While Chile cannot be considered a major participant in the discussion over Iran’s nuclear program, according to the Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention In Iran, Chile and Colombia remain the only two South American countries that have not openly opposed the imposition of new sanctions against Iran.
Economic interaction between Iran and Chile is for the most part negligible. Between January and May 2010 bilateral trade amounted to $8.2 million, with Chilean exports to Iran totaling $7.2 million.
Israeli media reported in May 2009 that an Israeli Foreign Ministry report on Iranian-Latin American relations cited Chile as an importer of Iranian oil, however failed to provide concrete numbers. Nevertheless, Argentina, Brazil, Angola, and Nigeria constitute the country’s main sources of oil.
In October 2009, Sipetrol, a subsidiary of the Chilean oil company Enap, announced plans to divest its stake in Iran’s Mehr block and exit the country. Before the decision, the firm held 33% of a contract to explore the oil block, located in the south-western Khuzestan province near Iraq and Kuwait.
In late May 2009, Israeli news portal Ynet obtained a detailed dossier drafted by the Israeli Foreign Ministry regarding Iranian activities in South America. The report, which was based on information gathered by Israeli and foreign military and diplomatic sources, claimed that Iran had begun cultivating partnerships in Latin America as early as 1982. The report further contended that “since Ahmadinejad’s rise to power, Tehran has been promoting an aggressive policy aimed at bolstering its ties with Latin American countries with the declared goal of ‘bringing America to its knees.’”
In late February 2010, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton began a tour of Latin America that included Chile, Brazil, Uruguay, Costa Rica, and Guatemala. A week prior to her departure, Clinton indicated that Iran’s involvement in the region would be “at the top of [her] agenda” during the visit.
After a devastating earthquake struck Chile on February 27, 2010, Secretary Clinton stated that Santiago remained on her itinerary, but that the agenda of her visit would change in the wake of the disaster. It is unclear to what extent Iran factored into the secretary’s visit, with public comments generally reflecting the United States’ commitment to aiding Chile’s rescue and reconstruction efforts. In March 2010, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast offered Iran’s sympathy to Chile for the country’s February earthquake. In a statement, Mehmanparast noted his “condolences to the people and government of Chile on behalf of the Iranian nation and government.” The ministry spokesman also stated that Iran was reviewing possible forms of humanitarian aid to Chile in light of the earthquake.
http://www.aduana.cl/prontus_aduana/site/edic/base/port/list_estadisticas.html (June 24, 2010)