Tehran and Buenos Aires on collision course

14 March 2003
Relations between Argentina and the Islamic republic suffered another setback on 12 March, when Tehran withdrew its highest diplomat from Buenos Aires for 'consultations'. The move came two days after Iran's Foreign Ministry summoned Argentine charge d'affaires Ernesto Carlos Alvarez for the second time in a fortnight, protesting against arrest warrants issued on 7 March by an Argentine judge for four Iranian officials.

Some 20 arrest warrants were issued in February for Iranian officials thought to be linked to the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community centre. The La Nacion daily on 23 February listed Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and other judiciary officials among the suspects wanted by Buenos Aires in connection with the bomb attack that killed 85 people.

The latest warrants call on Interpol to arrest former intelligence minister Ali Fallahain, former cultural attache to Buenos Aires Mohsen Rabbani, diplomat Ali Balesh Abadi and former education minister Ali Akbar Parvaresh. Argentina has long accused Iran of involvement in the bombing.

Iran has called the allegations 'baseless'. Vice Minister Ali Ahani said Tehran would 'not tolerate such acts and will take appropriate measures . to obtain reparation'. Iranian officials have repeatedly blamed Israel of being behind the allegations. 'There has been no convincing proof of Iran's involvement in that incident, and we have repeatedly said that these rumours and reports are made up by Zionist circles,' Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said.

Argentine Foreign Minister Carlos Ruckhauf on 10 March assured that the judge's action would be independent of the government.

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