To make matters worse, Argentina has dramatically increased its bilateral trade with Iran. The online business journal Latinvex has estimated that Argentine exports to the Islamic Republic grew by a whopping 937 percent in 2011, reaching $1.2 billion. And in the third quarter of 2012, Argentina accounted for nearly 64 percent of Iranian soy-oil imports, according to the German consultancy Oil World. So while the United States has been squeezing Iran economically and calling for tougher global sanctions, Argentina has been helping the Iranians to withstand the pressure.
It is now painfully clear that Kirchner has decided to join the Chávez bloc — the collection of autocratic leftists (including Bolivia’s Evo Morales, Ecuador’s Rafael Correa, and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega) who have adopted stridently anti-U.S. foreign policies and have provided either diplomatic cover or outright diplomatic support for Tehran. As I have argued elsewhere, Argentina no longer deserves to be a “major non-NATO ally” (MNNA) of the United States, nor does it deserve to be a member of the G-20. After all, it now has a government that will abruptly nationalize a Spanish-owned oil company, a government that will randomly and inexplicably seize materials from a U.S. military aircraft, a government that will threaten one of America’s closest allies (Britain), and a government that will whitewash the murderous depredations of the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.
Thus far, Kirchner has suffered no real diplomatic punishment for her actions. It is time for the Obama administration to (1) revoke Argentina’s MNNA status and (2) push for its expulsion from the G-20. This would not deliver justice for the Buenos Aires bombing victims. But it would send a forceful, unambiguous message.
(You can read this article in Spanish here.)