State Department to reconsider conclusions on Iran’s influence

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — The U.S. State Department is reviewing its recent report that described Iran’s influence in Latin America as “waning” in the wake of an Argentinian prosecutor’s report that such infiltration is increasing.

“The Nisman report was made public after our report was completed, so we asked the intelligence community to evaluate the information report on a priority basis,” Thomas Gibbons, the acting assistant secretary for legislative affairs, told Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) in an Aug. 1 letter obtained Tuesday by JTA.

Kirk and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) had written Secretary of State John Kerry in July expressing concern about the Argentinian government’s refusal to allow Alberto Nisman, the lead prosecutor in the deadly 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires, to present his recent report on Iranian infiltration to Congress.

The department had come under fire from Republicans in the House of Representatives over a June report that said Iran’s influence in the region is “waning” because of sanctions, U.S. outreach and poor Iranian diplomatic skills.

“This finding neglected to include the input of American allies in the region and disregarded the recent investigation from the General Prosecutor of the AMIA case, Mr. Alberto Nisman, which found that Iran has established terror networks throughout the hemisphere for the strategic long-term,” Rep. Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in July.

Nisman’s report maintains that Iran has infiltrated several South American countries through the installation of intelligence cells.

Kirk and Gillibrand also have expressed concern to Argentina about its decision earlier this year to establish a “truth commission” in conjunction with Iran to investigate the AMIA bombing, which killed 85 people and wounded hundreds.

The government of President Christina Kirchner insists that the commission will not impinge on criminal proceedings.

“I am encouraged Secretary Kerry is making this a priority issue and I look forward to working with him to implement a comprehensive multilateral strategy to counter Iranian influence in the Western Hemisphere,” Kirk told The Daily Beast, which broke the story on Monday.

NEXT STORY