Brazil, Argentina Play Nice with Iran

The publication of an alleged Iranian document in Perfil, the Argentinian daily newspaper, has touched off an issue no American can ignore. The document claims that the governments of Argentina and Iran had reached an agreement to freeze the investigation into the 1994 AMIA (Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina) bombing that killed 85 people -- and that the two countries were discussing and considering trade agreements with an estimated value of $1.2 billion.

Argentina's Foreign Minister Hector Timerman, who traveled to Israel on Wednesday, April 7, for a two-day visit, sidestepped the issue, raised by both the Israeli Foreign Ministry and journalists. The Israeli Foreign Ministry, which had considered canceling Timerman’s visit, asked Argentina for a clarification of the reports. Timerman met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for 45 minutes during which time they discussed terrorism, the victims of the attacks, and how best to combat this deadly trend. Israeli spokesmen, meanwhile, made no specific comments on the matter.

Relations between Argentina and Iran were seriously damaged following the AMIA bombing. The disastrous police investigation carried out during the tenure of former president Carlos Menem was described by his successor, Nestor Kirchner, as a "national disgrace."

Further inquiry led to the conclusion that there was prima facie evidence for the involvement of the Iranian Embassy, for which the Argentine government requested -- and Interpol did issue -- an arrest warrant for several Iranian authorities and one high ranking member of Lebanese Hezbollah said to be behind the plot. Since the issuance of that warrant, however, two of the individuals on that list have died or been killed.

In 2009, Menem, son of Syrian immigrants, and retired judge Juan José Galeano were indicted in federal court for alleged irregularities in the investigation into the AMIA attack. Also indicted were the ex-president’s brother, Munir Menem, former secretariat of state intelligence (SIDE) Hugo Anzorreguy, commissioner Jorge "Fino" Palacios, former deputy secretary of intelligence Juan Carlos Anchezar, and the retired commissioner Carlos Castañeda, accused of obstruction of justice.