Iran General NewsUS sees Iran as potential threat in Latin America

US sees Iran as potential threat in Latin America

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ImageAFP: Isolated Iran sees Latin America as a place to push back US influence, from which it could maintain a terrorist threat against the United States in the event of a conflict, a senior US official warned Wednesday.

ImageWASHINGTON (AFP) — Isolated Iran sees Latin America as a place to push back US influence, from which it could maintain a terrorist threat against the United States in the event of a conflict, a senior US official warned Wednesday.

Iran views Latin America as a chance to break out of some of its international isolation and defy Washington's major power status in its back yard, State Department official Thomas Shannon said in Washington.

"It's a way to push back on us," Shannon told a conference bringing together cabinet ministers and other officials from North and South America to promote greater economic integration.

Shannon, the assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, said it also posed a threat there as he repeated charges that Iran was behind bombings against Israeli and Jewish targets in Buenos Aires in the 1990s.

Iran denies any links.

"Our broader concern is that it … maintains that capacity in the Americas as a threat against us in the event of any conflict," Shannon said.

Despite a loud rattling of sabers over Iran's alleged support for Shiite militias in Iraq, the US military said last week that it has not embarked on new planning for war.

"As we urge countries to respect UN-based sanctions (over Iran's disputed nuclear program), we also remind them about AMIA, we remind them about the Israeli embassy bombings," Shannon said.

Twenty-two people were killed when the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires was bombed in 1992 and 85 people were killed when the headquarters of the AMIA, a charities federation for Argentina's big Jewish community, was bombed in the Argentine capital in 1994.

"And we remind them about the continuing relationships that exist in the region between groups in Latin America and groups that we consider to be terrorist in the Middle East, especially Hezbollah and Hamas," Shannon said.

Israel blames the Iranian-backed Hezbollah for both bombings in Buenos Aires, but there have so far been no convictions in either case.

"And we urge their intelligence services and their police services to monitor this activity with great care, because we do not want Iran to become a factor of violence within the Americas," Shannon said.

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