Bloomberg: Argentine President Nestor Kirchner will press Iran to cooperate in a probe of a 1994 terrorist attack in Buenos Aires when he speaks to the United Nations tomorrow, his cabinet chief said. By Eliana Raszewski
Sept. 24 (Bloomberg) — Argentine President Nestor Kirchner will press Iran to cooperate in a probe of a 1994 terrorist attack in Buenos Aires when he speaks to the United Nations tomorrow, his cabinet chief said.
Kirchner, in his last address to the UN General Assembly before leaving office, will raise the issue of Iran’s cooperation after Argentine prosecutors last year implicated former Iranian officials in a car bombing that killed 85 people, Cabinet Chief Alberto Fernandez said. It was the biggest attack on a Jewish target outside Israel since World War II.
“What we are asking Iran here isn’t connected with politics but rather is of a judicial nature aimed at getting to the truth,” Fernandez said today in an interview with Radio Diez.
Kirchner, whose wife Senator Cristina Fernandez is running to succeed him, has faced lobbying throughout his term by local Jewish groups to condemn Iran’s failure to provide information or witnesses in the 13-year probe. Iran’s top diplomat in Buenos Aires, Mohsen Baharvand, said accusations that Iran isn’t cooperating would create the impression Argentina favors war against Iran, Clarin reported Sept. 21.
Argentine prosecutors last year charged former Iranian government officials with directing Lebanese militia group Hezbollah to attack the Buenos Aires Jewish Community Center on July 18, 1994, injuring 300 in addition to the 85 killed.
“The Argentine justice system has determined what happened and implicated Iran,” said Aldo Donzis, president of the Delegation of Jewish Associations in an interview in Buenos Aires. “We hope President Kirchner will stay consistent with those findings and take action in relation to them. Terrorism is currently the biggest tragedy for the humanity.”
The government invited Donzis along with other Jewish leaders and four relatives of victims of the attack to New York to attend the General Assembly meeting, where Kirchner is slated to talk tomorrow.
“We expect Iran to start collaborating with Argentine justice to help us find who was responsible for the attack,” said Sergio Burstein, whose wife Rita was killed in the bombing. “We need the world to hear what the Argentine judicial system has said and help us find justice.”
On Nov. 9, federal Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral issued a warrant for the arrest of former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and eight other former Iranian officials. Iran, in a statement at the time, said the accusation were “baseless” and uncorroborated.
On March 15, International police agency Interpol issued so-called Red notices for the arrest of five former Iranian officials, including former Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahian, and for a Lebanese member of Hezbollah, putting them on an international watch list.
Interpol didn’t issue requested Red Notices for Rafsanjani, former Iranian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Akbar Velayati and former Iranian Ambassador to Argentina Hadi Soleimanpour.
“This is an extremely delicate situation,” said deputy Carlos Raimundi, a member of the lower house Foreign Relations committee. “I hope Kirchner will be prudent.”