Page last updated at 11:52 GMT, Tuesday, 1 September 2009 12:52 UK

Iran MPs back 1994 bomb suspect

Ahmad Vahidi
Mr Vahidi has served in Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards regiment

Iranian MPs have strongly backed the defence minister-designate, in defiance of Argentine demands for his arrest over a 1994 bombing in Buenos Aires.

Ahmad Vahidi faced no opposition from MPs on the third day of a debate on President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's choices for his new cabinet.

Interpol has distributed Argentina's warrant for his arrest for an attack on a Jewish centre that killed 85 people.

Mr Ahmadinejad's line-up will be put to a confidence vote on Wednesday.

During Mr Vahidi's speech to parliament, one MP who had been expected to object to his nomination interrupted to say he had changed his mind in the light of "Zionists' allegations".

The comment from Hadi Qavami was greeted by loud applause and shouts of "Death to Israel", reports say.

Under parliamentary rules, two MPs can speak in opposition to ministerial appointments.

During two days of stormy debates, many of Mr Ahmadinejad's nominees have faced bitter opposition on the grounds of their experience, qualifications or gender.

Red notice

Interpol says Mr Vahidi has been subject to a "red notice" - or international wanted persons alert - since 2007. The Argentine authorities are seeking his arrest along with that of five other suspects.

Israel and Argentina have condemned the nomination of Mr Vahidi, with Buenos Aires calling it "an affront to the victims" of the attack 15 years ago.

Iran has denied any involvement in the blast at the Israeli-Argentine Mutual Association (AMIA) and says the case against it is politically motivated.

Mr Vahidi is a long-serving member of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards and he served as deputy defence minister in Mr Ahmadinejad's outgoing government.

He was the commander of a special Guards unit known as the Quds Force at the time of the 1994 attack.

The red notice informs Interpol's 187 members that an arrest warrant has been issued by a judicial authority, and it is not an international arrest warrant in itself.

Argentine prosecutors allege that Vahidi "participated in and approved of" the decision to attack the Jewish centre.

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