Argentina’s Jewish leadership has reacted angrily to Tehran’s renewed denial of any involvement in the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Jewish Mutual Association (Amia) building in Buenos Aires.
The denial came during a meeting at the United Nations headquarters in Geneva on Monday between Héctor Timerman, Argentina’s Jewish Foreign Minister, and his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Salehi.
The Argentinian authorities have demanded that Iran hand over eight Iranian diplomats and one Lebanese person whom they accuse of being behind the Amia bombing on July 18, 1994 — the deadliest-ever terrorist attack on Argentinian soil which left 85 dead and hundreds injured. Tehran has consistently denied any involvement in either that bombing or the attack on the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires two years earlier, in 1992, in which 29 were killed and 200 wounded.
This week, an Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast again rejected all accusations against Tehran, adding: “Negotiations with Argentina will continue until we arrive at a clear conclusion.”
In response, Amia’s president, Guillermo Borger, said that if Iran persisted in denying responsibility, the current dialogue between Buenos Aires and Tehran on the issue should be called off. Mr Borger said that the opportunity for bilateral dialogue had “come and gone” when the “Iranian Foreign Ministry upheld that its citizens have no connection to the attack.”
Inside sources, cited this week by the Argentinian press, stated that “all alternatives are on the table” — believed to be a reference to the possibility of a trial being held in a neutral country, or the intervention of both countries’ Supreme Courts to try the accused.
Meanwhile, it was reported in Israel that, just days before the Geneva talks, Itzhak Shoham, head of the Latin America desk at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, had travelled to Buenos Aires to warn the Argentinian government that Israel would not allow the Amia bombing “to be swept under the carpet”.
The Israeli government expressed “disappointment” last month over the talks, saying there was “no room for doubt” that Tehran had been responsible for the attack.