Argentina and Iran have formed an extrajudicial “Truth Commission” to probe the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, which Iran and its client terror group Hezbollah have long been suspected of orchestrating.
Several Iranian officials are currently wanted by Interpol in connection to the bombing, which killed 85 and injured hundreds more.
The commission will be made up of five jointly chosen jurists. It will review evidence against the Iranians on the Interpol red notice list and send its findings to the international police organization.
Argentine President Cristina Kirchner, who was recently photographed posing in a Viet Cong spider hole and holding hands with Fidel Castro, praised the establishment of the Truth Commission as “historic” on Twitter.
“Argentina reaffirms once again its unconditional respect for international law and unwaivable commitment to dialogue as the only mechanism for resolution of conflicts between countries,” said Kirchner, calling it the “only path to global security.”
A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department was optimistic when asked about the Truth Commission.
“I think—you know, we all obviously have all wanted to see the perpetrators brought to justice, so if the Argentine government thinks this might take us closer to that, then we’ll have to—we’ll have to see,” said spokesperson Victoria Nuland at the State Department press briefing today.
However, Argentina’s decision has drawn outrage from Israel and Jewish community leaders, who see it as an effort to shield Iran from justice.
“We warned the Argentinians only a short while ago not to fall into the trap that the Iranians will set up for them,” said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Yigal Palmor.
“We are stunned by this news item and we will want to receive from the Argentine government a complete picture as to what was agreed upon because this entire affair affects Israel directly.”
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) also had strong criticism for the commission.
“[President Kirchner] laid out a series of rationales for why this was positive and historic,” said ADL director of international affairs Michael Salberg. “We certainly think it’s historic, but we find it to be anything but positive.”
“It establishes an unprecedented commission that will by its very nature further delay achieving justice in this case,” Salberg said. “And the further delay of achieving justice means that justice remains denied to the victims and the families of the victims.”
Kirchner’s decision to form a Truth Commission with Iran is the latest sign that her administration is allying itself with anti-American forces in the region. Argentina closed arms deals with China and Venezuela under Kirchner and escalated an aggressive fight with the United Kingdom over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands.
“The Kirchner administration has steadily moved closer to the ‘Bolivarian’ bloc of nations led by [Hugo] Chávez [in Venezuela] and including Evo Morales in Bolivia, Rafael Correa in Ecuador and Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua,” wrote Douglas Farah, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, in a recent report on the shifting Kirchner government.
Previously, the Kirchner administration riled the Israeli government and Jewish leaders by conducting negotiations with Iranian officials indicted in the 1994 bombing. Iran has long professed its innocence in the attack, dismissing the allegations as a “Zionist plot.”