Iran Approves Agreement with Argentina

Iran approves an agreement with Argentina on forming a commission to investigate a 1994 attack on a Jewish building.

Elad Benari ,

Aftermath of AMIA bombing
Aftermath of AMIA bombing

Iran has approved a memorandum of understanding with Argentina on forming a truth commission to investigate a deadly 1994 attack on a Jewish charities building, an Iranian diplomat said Monday, according to the AFP news agency.

Ali Pakdaman, Iran's charge d'affaires in Buenos Aires, said the memorandum was approved Sunday by the Iranian government without being submitted to the parliament.

The two countries reached an agreement January 27 to form a truth commission to investigate the bombing of the Argentine Jewish Charities Federation (AMIA) building in Buenos Aires, which killed 85 people in the worst attack of its kind ever in Argentina.

The commission is to be made up of five members, none of whom will be either Iranian or Argentine, reported AFP.

The Argentine courts have charged eight current and former senior Iranian officials in the crime, including current Defense Minister Ahmad Vahidi and former president Ali Rafsanjani.

Argentina's Congress approved the agreement on February 28, after President Cristina Kirchner assured that it would allow the Argentina judge in charge of the case to question the Iranian accused. Iran has denied that any Iranians facing international arrest warrants over the bombing would be questioned by the Argentine judge.

The Argentine opposition and representatives of the country's 300,000-strong Jewish community strenuously opposed the agreement.

Pakdaman said the Iranian government did not require approval from the parliament for the memorandum of understanding because the agreement said only that it needed to be ratified by the "appropriate bodies."

Kirchner, he said, "sent it to the Congress because she thought there was a consensus and that the executive should not carry all the weight of the agreement.”

"For us, in Iran, the memorandum is in effect and its approval is in accordance with point six of the text,” said Pakdaman, according to AFP.

Tehran and Buenos Aires withdrew their ambassadors after the charges were filed against the Iranians. Iran has denied that its former or current officials were involved in the attack.

A bombing of the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires two years earlier, in 1992, killed 29 people and wounded 200 others.

Washington has cast doubt that any solution will emerge from the deal between Iran and Argentina.