February 27, 2010
Ecuador-Iran Foreign Relations
Ecuadorian President Raphael Correa has criticized the United States for its anti-Iranian policies: he claimed in July 2008 that “we [Ecuadorians] have nothing against Iran. Iran has done nothing to us." He reiterated this sentiment in December 2008, claiming that Ecuador was “not going to stop getting closer to Iran because (the United States) has it on a black list," Correa said.” Ecuador’s Foreign Minister, Maria Isabel Salvador, has said that Ecuador believes Iran’s nuclear program is aimed at only generating peaceful nuclear technology for civilian use. She has also stated Iran’s nuclear program will not impede the development of good relations between Iran and Ecuador.
Ecuador is also a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, which released a statement at a Summit meeting in Tehran in July 2008 declaring that its member states “welcomed the continuing cooperation being extended by the Islamic Republic of Iran to the IAEA” and “reaffirmed that states’ choices and decisions, including those of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear technology and its fuel cycle policies must be respected.”
Since Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa’s inauguration in 2007, Ecuador and Iran have deepened their economic ties while working towards closer political ties. The two saw impressive advances in their bilateral cooperation in 2007, beginning in January with the establishment of trade offices in Tehran and Quito  and ending the year with a December meeting in Tehran between Correa and Ahmadinejad with the aim of “opening new markets and bilateral cooperation in oil and energy.” In January 2009, President Ahmadinejad promised to invest more than $200 million in Ecuador to finance further trade and joint development projects.
In March 2009, Iran agreed to finance two new power plants in Ecuador. In September 2009, Iran also granted a $40 million loan for Ecuadorian exporters and has considered also depositing $145 million into Ecuador’s central bank. As part of a financial agreement signed between Ecuador and Iran in December 2008, the state-run Export Development Bank of Iran plans to open a branch in Ecuador’s capital in order to boost trade and expand Ecuador’s exports to Iran. According to the US Treasury Department, this move by Iran is “in response to international sanctions and the refusal of many responsible banks to do business with Iranian banks”. The US Treasury Department has said that Iran has begun using less prominent institutions, such as the Export Development Bank of Iran, to handle many of its financial transactions in order to circumvent UN banking sanctions.
In December 2009, International Monetary Fund (IMF) data analyzed by the Latin Business Chronicle confirmed that Iran-Latin American trade soared 209% in 2008, totaling $2.9 billion. While Brazil remains Iran’s main Latin American trading partner and exporter, Ecuador has replace Peru as the main importer of Iranian products. Iran’s trade with Ecuador skyrocketed between 2007 and 2008 from $6 million to $168 million.
Ecuador and Iran deepened their diplomatic relationship during this period as well, beginning in 2007 when Ecuadorian President Raphael Correa invited Iranian President Ahmadinejad to his inauguration; the two countries agreed to open embassies in January 2007. Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency reported in January 2007 that Correa claimed, “the Islamic Republic of Iran will soon find a special place in his country's foreign policy.” Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa later paid his first official visit to Iran in December 2008.  Both Ecuador and Iran are also members of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC). Venezuela is a mutual ally of both countries and has also helped facilitate a relationship between Ecuador and Iran by coordinating joint energy and development deals. [18
Beyond building a diplomatic relationship with Tehran, Correa has also suggested it may buy weapons from Iran in order to secure its border with Colombia. Ecuadorian government officials thus attended an exhibition held by the Iranian Defense Ministry in December 2008. In March 2009, President Correa met with an energy delegation headed by the Deputy Minister of Energy Hammid Chitchian to discuss greater bilateral energy cooperation.
In May 2009, Ahmadinejad was scheduled to pay an official visit to Brazil, Ecuador, and Venezuela accompanied by over 100 delegates, however he canceled his visit a day before it was set to begin. Nevertheless, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki visited Ecuador in August 2009 for the inauguration ceremony of President Rafael Correa. During his visit, Mottaki attended a meeting of the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, an organization opposed to US-backed free trade in Latin America. Mottaki also lauded what he termed the common approach of Ecuador and Iran on regional issues.
In late May 2009, Israeli news website Ynet obtained a detailed dossier drafted by the Israeli Foreign Ministry on Iran’s activities in South America. The report, which is based on information gathered by Israeli and foreign military and diplomatic sources around the world, claimed that Iran had begun building friendships in Latin America as early as 1982. The Foreign Ministry report claimed that particularly “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.’” The Ministry also detailed the economic ties between Tehran and South America. The report also claimed that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez contributed to the strengthening of ties between Tehran, Bolivia, Ecuador, and Nicaragua by inviting Ahmadinejad to presidential inauguration ceremonies that were held in those countries.
In response to the terrorist attacks in southeastern Iran that killed over 40 people, including some military commanders, Ecuadorian Foreign Minister Fander Falconi paid a telephone call to his Iranian counterpart Manouchehr Mottaki, voicing his sympathy for the relatives of those killed in the attacks. The two diplomats also reviewed the latest regional and international developments and called for expansion of ties between the two countries.