Latin America

Argentina asks US to focus on Jewish center bombing during Iranian talks

But Washington states discussions with Tehran will not stray from “nuclear issues”

President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.AFP

Argentina asked the United States on Tuesday for its help in the ongoing investigation into the 1994 car-bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center, which left 85 people dead.

In a letter, Argentinean Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman requested that Washington take up the issue in its talks with Iran over nuclear disarmament.

The surprise petition comes as Argentina is facing a major political crisis over allegations that President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner tried to cover-up Iranian involvement in the terrorist attack by offering Tehran a grain-for-oil deal.

It also comes as tensions in the South American nation are brewing over the mysterious death of a prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, who had asked a Buenos Aires judge on January 14 to open an investigation into the president, Timerman and other officials in connection with the alleged conspiracy.

Argentina is facing a political crisis over allegations that President Kirchner tried to cover-up Iranian involvement in the terrorist attack

This is the second time Argentina has asked the United States for its help in solving the terrorist bombing case. In 2013, Fernández de Kirchner sent a letter to the White House in which she recognized “the permanent cooperation” between her country and the United States “to search for the truth” and “to bring to justice those responsible for” the AMIA attack.

On this occasion, Timerman directed his comments to the US and Israeli ambassadors in Buenos Aires but also took a critical posture.

More information

“Argentina is observing with great concern the increasing frequency with which many countries are used as stages for the intervention of other states to set out disputes in function of their own geopolitical interests,” Timerman wrote, without referring to any nation. “My country rejects these actions and tries to ensure they do not happen in its territory.”

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said that the United States will not be getting involved in the investigation.

“I’m not aware of any plans to do that,” she said during her daily press briefing. “As it relates to the Iran negotiations, the Iran negotiations remain focused on the nuclear issue. That will continue.”

Nisman had claimed that Fernández de Kirchner had tried to derail his investigation

In 2006, Nisman, who was in charge of the inquiry, issued warrants for a group of Iranians, including the then-commander of the Revolutionary Guard, who he said were responsible for planning and carrying out the attack. But no one has been arrested in the case.

Nisman, who claimed that Fernández de Kircnher and others tried to derail his investigation, was found dead with a gunshot wound to his head just four days after he submitted his prosecution writ to a Buenos Aires court asking for a formal inquiry against the president and her officials.

Last week, another prosecutor revived Nisman’s original complaint.

While denying the allegations, Fernández de Kirchner has suggested publicly that Nisman may have been misled by a former top intelligence officer, Antonio Stiuso, who was fired by the president in December.