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Last Updated:  Sunday, 9 March, 2003, 14:40 GMT
Iran denies Argentina blast role
The aftermath of the 1994 bombing of a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires
It was Argentina's worst terror attack
Iran has denied that any of its officials were involved in a deadly bomb attack on a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires in 1994.

Its foreign ministry said it would seek talks with Argentina in coming days after a judge there asked Interpol to arrest four Iranian officials accused of involvement in the attack.

Judge Juan Jose Galeano ordered their arrest after Argentine intelligence services linked the officials to the bombing, which killed 85 people.

But Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi warned that if Argentina did not "make up for its mistake", Tehran would take action.

If the Argentine Government fails to make up for its mistake, Iran will adopt appropriate measures
Hamid Reza Asefi
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman

"Iran had no role in the Argentine incident and so far no evidence has been provided of Iran's involvement," he told reporters in the Iranian capital.

"We will hold talks with the Argentine Government within the next few days, and if the Argentine government fails to make up for its mistake, Iran will adopt appropriate measures."

Iran's former Intelligence and Security Minister, Ali Fallahijan, and the former cultural attache at the Iranian embassy in Buenos Aires, Moshe Rabbani, are among those named in the arrest warrants.

'Hezbollah link'

The judge based his ruling on a new report by the Argentine intelligence services which has yet to be made public.

It is the first time an official Argentine body has drawn conclusions on the international leads in the bombing of the Argentine-Israeli Mutual Association (Amia), the worst in the country's history.

The Government of Iran and armed units of the pro-Iranian armed group Hezbollah were behind the horror of 18 July, 1994, that... killed 85 people
Leaked intelligence report (Clarin newspaper)

In his 400-page ruling Judge Galeano is reported to have cited "responsibility in the attack on the Amia of radical militant elements in the Islamic Republic of Iran".

Leaked versions of the intelligence report published in the Argentine press say that in the days leading up to the attack, there was an unusual movement of Iranian diplomats in and out of Argentina.

There were also said to have been many telephone calls between Buenos Aires, Iranian Government offices and the Paraguayan city of Ciudad del Este, which has a large Arab community on the Brazilian and Argentine border.

The explosives used in the blast were reportedly brought from this tri-border area - frequently alleged to be the scene for fundraising for Islamic militants.

The order to blow the Amia building up was given by Iranian Government officials and Hezbollah leaders, security services are reported to have concluded.

Plagued by delays

Argentine security officials are said to be concerned that Judge Galeano did not ask for the arrest of Hezbollah members, according to the Clarin newspaper.

Hezbollah was first blamed for the attack by the government of Carlos Menem, in office at the time of the blast.

But in the past nine years, the case has been plagued by disappearing witnesses and unexplained delays.

Argentina's 300,000-strong Jewish community is the largest in Latin America, and has been the target of other attacks.

A 1992 bomb attack on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in which 29 people were killed also remains unsolved.




SEE ALSO:
Argentina Jewish bomb trial starts
24 Sep 01 |  Americas


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