In 2013, Iran and Argentina signed a memorandum to lead a joint investigation into the 1994 bombing of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA), a Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires. 

In July of 1994, a man drove an explosive-laden van into the headquarters of the Asociación Mutual Israelita Argentina (AMIA) killing 85 and injuring more than 300 people. The bombing is the deadliest terrorist incident on Argentine soil to date.

In 2006, the Argentine federal prosecutor Alberto Nisman accused Iran’s paramilitary force, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) of designing the AMIA attack, and its Lebanese proxy force Hezbollah of executing it. However, there have been members within Argentina’s political leadership who have consistently sought to stall any investigation into the case.

More Twists and Turns

Among them was Argentina’s former president  Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, now serving a six-year prison sentence for corruption. When Fernández came to power in 2007, the country signed a memorandum of understanding  withIran.  Together with Interpol, the two governments agreed to form a truth commission.

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Multiple  Jewish community groups in Argentina, including the AMIA, filed a petition denouncing the memorandum as unconstitutional. Their  contention was that the evidence of Iran’s involvement in the bombing  was undeniable, and that it offered no benefit to the victims of the attack or Argentina. .

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Nisman also opposed the memorandum, calling it a “wrongful interference of the executive branch” , and accused President Fernández and her government of trying to cover up Iran’s involvement.. 

Nisman  even compiled a 300-page dossier on the Kirchner government’s efforts to cover up the AMIA incident. Butt in January of 2015, before he had a chance to present his findings to  Congress, he was shot dead. His murder case as well as that of the AMIA bombing are still open.

After Mauricio Macri succeeded Fernández later that same year , his justice ministry immediately voided the memorandum. Israel’s former and most likely next prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the move as a “welcome change of direction” for  Argentina and expressed hope that relations with Tel Aviv  would improve.

However, the seizure  of an Iranian-Venezuelan Boeing 747 in Buenos Aires lastJune added  another  twist to an unfolding drama . The plan had a crew of 19 people, 5 were Iranians. Some had clear ties to the IRGC and the Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government. It was also discovered that  such flights to Argentina have been a regular occurrence for some time. 

This has raised many questions regarding the extent of Iran’s security and military presence as well as political influence in Argentina. For example, the pilot of the seized plane, Gholamreza Ghasemi, is a ranking officer of the Quds Force, the same security wing  that plotted the AMIA bombing.

Just An Argentine Cover Up?

The opposition and members of the judiciary have accused Macri’s  government of orchestrating a  cover up of these  flights of the regime-affiliated Iranian-Venezuelan aircraft to Argentina. Many of the current Argentine government officials are the same people who signed the AMIA memorandum under Fernández.

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Last July, a group of US Senate Republicans sent a letter to the Biden administration demanding a rationale for their delay in delivering key information of the Iranian suspects in the Boeing case to Argentine law enforcement officials. e. They believed the administration was aware of the extent of the IRGC’s association in South America but were withholding information in order to not undermine efforts to revive the JCPOA.

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Last August, Argentina arrested four Iranians with fake French passports with possible links to the  Revolutionary Guards. They were arrested at Ezeiza International Airport in Buenos Aires, intending to  fly to Amsterdam. 

The arrest warrant for the four was issued by the Federal Judge Federico Villena, who is also in charge of investigating the Boeing case.

In October, a month after protests in Iran began, Argentina released the Boeing 747 cargo plane and the 5 crew members still detained. The federal judge Federico Villena determined that there was no basis to prosecute the crew. However, the judicial investigation will still remain open.

Although the case seems closed at this point, the IRGC’s active presence in South America can be still used to  scuttle the JCPOA for good.  Flight records even show that the same Boeing plane made a brief stop in Moscow before heading to Buenos Aires. 

In light of all of these events, Washington should find no reason to appease the theocrats of Tehran with a revised nuclear deal. Hopefully, the JCPOA will finally enter the archives of failed deals with dictators.

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The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.