(CNSNews.com) – On the 23rd anniversary of the bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires, opposition lawmakers in Argentina on Tuesday urged the U.S. and other countries involved in the Iran nuclear negotiations to consider Iran’s alleged hand in that attack and another terrorist atrocity in the city.
A total of 114 people were killed and hundreds were injured in the 1992 embassy bombing and the suicide truck bombing two years later of the Argentine-Israel Mutual Association (AMIA), a Jewish community center.
The two bombings were widely believed to be linked, and Argentina in 1998 expelled Iranian diplomats in connection with both attacks.
Then at Argentina’s request, Interpol eight years ago issued “red notices” – the policing organization’s rough equivalent of a most-wanted list – for five senior Iranian regime figures suspected of involvement in the AMIA bombing, where the death toll was 85.
Investigators suspect that the bombing, the deadliest terror attack in Argentina’s history, was carried out on Iran’s instruction by its Lebanese-based proxy, the Shi’ite terrorist group Hezbollah.
According to the Associated Press the lawmakers’ letter cited both of the attacks and urged the P5+1 group – the U.S., Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany – to take note of Iran’s “ardent support of terrorism in our country and beyond.”
The six countries are pursuing a comprehensive agreement with Tehran over its nuclear programs by a month-end deadline. To that end Secretary of State John Kerry was holding further talks with his Iranian counterpart in Switzerland on Tuesday.
The Obama administration has made it clear throughout the drawn-out negotiations that other aspects of Iran’s behavior – from its sponsorship of terrorism to its incarceration of American citizens like Pastor Saeed Abedini – are being kept separate from the nuclear talks.
“Yes, they have been engaged in these other activities,” Kerry said in Paris earlier this month when asked about Iran’s support for terrorism. “That’s why they are a designated country.”
“And the truth is that’s not on the table in this discussion. Our goal is ultimately to change the behavior and ultimately try to affect these other places,” he continued. “But for the moment, the key is to prevent them from having a nuclear weapon. Because if this country that is engaged in these other activities has a nuclear weapon, you got a whole different ballgame.”
Allegations of Iran’s involvement in the 1990s attacks caused a serious diplomatic rift between the two countries, but in 2013 President Cristina de Kirchner signed an agreement with Tehran to jointly investigate the AMIA bombing.
Last January a political scandal erupted when the lead investigator into the AMIA bombing, Alberto Nisman, accused Kirchner of trying to shield the Iranian suspects in exchange for improved trade ties.
Kirchner denied the allegations, and shortly before Nisman was to testify before Argentina’s Congress about the matter, his body was found in his apartment with a gunshot wound to the head. His mysterious death sparked large street protests and a high-profile investigation is underway.
On Wednesday two House Foreign Affairs subcommittees have scheduled a joint hearing on Iranian and Hezbollah activity in the Western hemisphere.
“Given the impending deadline for nuclear negotiations over Iran’s illicit nuclear weapons program, I believe it is critical for the U.S. to re-examine Iran and Hezbollah’s activities in our own neighborhood,” said Western hemisphere subcommittee chairman Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.).
Foundation for Defense of Democracies resource website on Alberto Nisman