Argentina and Iran signed a document on the establishment of a special commission, which will investigate circumstances of the explosion of a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires in 1994. Israel was outraged with the move and demands explanations from Argentinian President Kirchner. Argentina’s position is simple: if you are looking for justice, why not use all means to succeed.
A car bomb exploded on July 18, 1994 in front of the building of AMIA (Argentine Jewish Mutual Association) in the Argentine capital. The blast killed 85 people and injured 300. Two years prior to the attack, another terrorist attack committed against the Israeli embassy killed 22 people and injured 200. According to Interpol, five Iranian citizens, including Ahmad Vahidi, who currently serves as the Iranian defense minister, were involved in the attack on the cultural center in Buenos Aires. Investigators concluded that the attack was planned and financed by Tehran, and that the blast was conducted by members of Lebanese extremist group Hezbollah. However, Iran denies its involvement in the explosion.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced the intention of the countries to join their efforts in the investigation of the tragedy in July 2012. He said at the UN General Assembly that his country hoped to strengthen relations with Argentina. “We have great respect for the people of Argentina,” Ahmadinejad said, having added that the explosion was conducted as an “intervention of a third party”.
The agreement on the establishment of “the committee for the investigation of the explosion has now been signed at the level of foreign ministers. It shall now be ratified by the parliaments of both countries.
“The committee will have to study all the documents that have been submitted to date by judicial authorities in Argentina and Iran,” President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner wrote on Sunday on her Twitter.
The committee will include five foreign experts, excluding the participation of citizens of Iran and Argentina. As noted by Argentine Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, the agreement would allow Argentine judges to interrogate suspects in Tehran.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry expressed a protest. Israeli diplomats believe that Iran is trying to trap Argentina.
“We are stunned with this news, and we want to get a full picture from the Government of Argentina of what they agreed to, because all this touches upon Israel directly,” Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said, according to Haaretz.
Israeli authorities learned about the signing of the agreement news reports. The Argentine government refused to inform the country about the negotiations with Iran directly, despite repeated requests from Jerusalem. Even during several meetings with Timerman, a Jew by birth, (the meetings took place last week) Israeli diplomats and representatives of the Jewish community, were able to learn only general information about the agreement, the newspaper said.
After the agreement was signed, various suggestions appeared in the press saying that Iran offered Argentina to improve financial relations, if the investigation of the explosions was going to be terminated. However, prosecutor Alberto Nisman denied the version of local tabloid Perfil.
However, such suspicions are not based on nothing. Iran has suddenly broken through an economic blockade due to the sanctions imposed on it in Latin America. The critical role in it belonged to Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina. Iran’s trade turnover with the countries of the region had a three-fold increase in 2012, according to Latinvex and the IMF. Moreover, due to the increase of the share of exports of Latin American goods to Iran, it increased by 4,3 times to $ 3.9 billion. The share of Argentine goods amounted to about 40 percent – $ 1.2 billion – which marked a tenfold increase as compared to 2010.
Ahmadinejad clearly outlined his intention of political reconciliation with Argentina, and Cristina Kirchner did not remain in debt. Thus, the delegation of the country did not leave the meeting of the General Assembly at the United Nations, in 2011, when Ahmadinejad went up the stage. It would seem that there is a conspiracy. If so, the charges of betrayal of national interests for the sake of pragmatism are valid?
However, to date the official Buenos Aires has not changed its position regarding the involvement of Iranian citizens in the bombings that took place during the 1990s. There is no indication to prove that Argentina has renounced its beliefs or behavior towards Iran as a result of the development of economic relations between the two countries.
For example, Argentina demanded Bolivia should extradite Minister Ahmad Vahidi, when he was on an official visit to the neighboring country in November 2011. In addition, economic relations, especially in trade, are not equivalent to state relations. Indeed, the Iranian government is a key player in the trade, but there are private companies on Argentina’s side, such as Cargill, Louis Dreyfus, Bunge that export soy, corn, wheat and other commodities to Iran. In addition, the Iran leading trading partner, despite Western sanctions, is Germany. The exports of German companies to Iran amounted to 3.8 billion euros in 2010.
The West is simply concerned about Kirchner’s independence. She supports Iran’s right for its nuclear program. The Argentinian president is also in solidarity with Hugo Chavez. Why not, if he actually saved the country from default, supplying oil at preferential prices. In a video posted on YouTube in August 2011, former Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs and the United States, Roger Noriega, said that the partnership of Argentina, Venezuela and Iran would be very dangerous because the countries could exchange information on nuclear weapons with each other. The nonsense of this statement is obvious. Nevertheless, the interaction within this triangle does not promise anything good for the West. The latter tries to discredit Kirchner with fabrications of her allegedly worthless domestic economic policies and the struggle with the “free” press.
The West does not like the fact that Argentina’s foreign policies are aimed at protecting its national interests, and is expressed in the diversification of economic relations to turn the country into a global player.
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