Argentina’s Timerman quashes report on deal with Iran

Argentina’s foreign minister denied a report that his country had a deal with Iran to quash the investigation into the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center.

Hector Timerman during a radio interview while in Ukraine said Thursday that “Argentina is the only country that presented cases to international organizations such as Interpol against Iran.”

Timerman, the country’s first Jewish foreign minister, was referring to the six Iranians who are the subject of Interpol warrants, or “red notices.”

The Argentinian newspaper Perfil reported March 26 that Iran had secretly offered Iran a deal to stanch the AMIA probe in exchange for better trade relations with Iran.

No one has been apprehended in the AMIA bombing, which killed 85 and injured more than 300. Hezbollah agents allegedly carried out the attack with Iranian sponsorship and organization.

Interpol’s general secretary met in November 2009 in France with the Argentinian prosecutor of the case, Argentinian Foreign Ministry officials and representatives of the political umbrella group of Argentinian Jewry, the DAIA, to discuss intensified efforts to capture the Iranians. 

At last year’s annual U.N. General Assembly, Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner called on Iran to surrender the Iranian officials connected with the bombing for prosecution.

The Perfil article appeared a week before Timerman’s first trip to Israel as a foreign minister. Israel had threatened to cancel the visit over the report but it went ahead as scheduled.

Timerman said no Israeli government official brought up the subject and that he talked about the case with the Palestinians and Syrians.

In the interview, Timerman took a slap at Perfil reporter Jose Eliaschev.

“That was false information, was an operation that was made against my trip to Israel made by a pseudo journalist,” he said.

Elisachev replied Thursday on Perfil online by saying that Timerman is “a pseudo Foreign Minister, which only a government like this could have paid with their positions in New York, Washington and now the Foreign Ministry.”

According to Perfil, Argentina was hoping the deal would lead to more trade with Iran, which is estimated at $1.2 billion a year. Under the reported deal, which is based on a classified Iranian document, Argentina would drop its investigations into the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy, which killed 29 and injured 242, and the AMIA bombing.

Trade between Argentina and Israel in 2010 reached $249 million. Argentine exports to Israel were $222 million, while imports topped $127 million.