By Hugo Alconada Mon, 15 January 2015
In public and in the press, Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman announced that the meeting with his Iranian counterpart on September 28, 2013, in New York, was held at the request of the Tehran regime. That was the official story. But yesterday, the prosecutor in the AMIA case, Alberto Nisman, presented another version, which states that “parallel” channels from Buenos Aires to the very heart of power in Tehran were being used: “The meeting is [being] hurried at Cristina’s request.”
That is just one example among many others of “the mendacity and double-speak” that according to the prosecutor “has been the rule” in the negotiations that Argentina has had with Iran since the Casa Rosada took a U-turn in its position on the AMIA attack. That shift, according to Nisman, began in late October 2010, just hours or days after the death of former President Nestor Kirchner.
So, for the prosecutor, the negotiations that the government had with the Iranian regime ran down two simultaneous tracks, one public and one secret, as it is seen from wiretaps that Nisman collected. These two tracks were often contradictory.
“What they were trying to hide was so terrible -the covering up for terrorist fugitives –that they resorted to any means to achieve that goal,” the prosecutor said. “They didn’t hesitate in lying and/or publicly deceiving the Parliament, the victims, Jewish institutions, the families and the entire citizenry, if that could help to keep the cover-up plan hidden. So much so that while the public diplomatic negotiations went on, the impunity plan moved stealthily along parallel channels of communication and negotiations with Iran. ”
On September 27, 2013, for example, one day before the meeting in New York, the picket leader Luis D’Elia served as a channel of communication with the Iranian contact in Buenos Aires, Jorge Khalil, to reach Tehran. In particular, Mohsen Rabbani, one of the main suspects in the bombing in Buenos Aires, who is still in Iran.
“I have an urgent message from the Argentine government, it’s beyond urgent [to Teheran], it must be before tomorrow? I’m at Government House now. There is no matter more important than this, believe me. I need to talk to the sheik over there [meaning Rabbani]. Look, what I have is very big, okay?”
What was the message? As stated in his document, Nisman said that the Casa Rosada needed “some public statements by Tehran, although they were false, because they would be useful for the impunity plan.” So after listening to D’Elia, Khalik warned Tehran that the President “needs the Iranian government, with the Argentine government, to announce the formation of the Truth Commission tomorrow. And the day, in January, when the Argentine judge will travel to Tehran, is being decided. ”
So while Timerman said to the press at the time that the government had “received a call from the Islamic Republic of Iran requesting a meeting,” the secret Iranian messengers indicated otherwise: “The meeting is being hurried at Cristina’s request.”
Throughout the 300 page document from Nisman, however, the President does not appear in any secret message using her own voice. She does, however, show up in numerous allusions by D’Elia and Khalil, as well as two other informal partners: the local Deputy and leader of La Campora, Andrés Larroque, or the leader of Quebracho, Fernando Esteche.
In one of his intercepted messages, for example, Khalil reporte to Teheran about a meeting in La Matanza in which possible trade was discussed. “I went to talk to D’Elia and told him about all the proposals, and fthose rom the Foreign Ministry, too, which they’d proposed to me. And he brought up “el Cuervo” Larroque, from La Campora, the head of La Campora. And they were going to talk to Cristina straight away. ”
With Esteche, however, the Iranian envoy spoke about how to redirect the AMIA case. According to the leader of Quebracho, they were moving ahead on a “new enemy”, and “they will not be able to say that it was the Israelis” because it would not be credible, they should build a false but plausible theory. To the point of drawing “a connection to local fascists”.
So while on one hand, the Iranians were seeking to lift the Interpol red alerts against their citizens who were facing international arrest warrants, those allegedly responsible for the attack, the Argentines were after oil.
In that vein, Nisman details a meeting between Federal Planning Minister Julio De Vido and D’Elia, who then reports to Khalil: “They are willing to send people from YPF with us to do business there [in Iran]. He’s very interested in exchanging what they have [oil] for grains and beef.” And he concluded: “The meeting happened because I asked the boss lady, OK? We are at the highest level.”
For that, although Kirchnerism publicly denied it was moving closer to Iran for trade reasons -and indicated that it only sought to spur on the investigation of the AMIA- it proposed the opposite in private. So, Khalil told Iran about the President’s needs through De Vido, according to Nisman: “This is the green light for the operations and for sending people, the issue is that they want to hurry the memorandum. De Vido understands that to make a step into this, or to make it official, from state to state, there must be a memorandum signed, because if not, the private side will go on – what else?- like they are. So the memorandum must be signed first to start doing this from state to state,” he said.
Seen from the Iranian perspective, the Argentine proposal was very different from what had been announced in public speeches by Argentine officials. Therefore, Foreign Minister Ali Salehi summarized the message from Timerman after their first meeting in Aleppo, Syria, in January 2011: “Argentina is no longer interested in solving those two attacks, but instead prefers to improve trade relations with Iran.”
The secret negotiations hit a major snag, however, when Interpol refused to lift the red alerts. For Iran it was a tough setback, especially since -according to Nisman- this violated the alleged secret deal that Timerman had made, which he always denied existed.
Khalil was responsible for communicating Tehran’s reaction to his Argentine partners. “There is some frustration there,” he said to them. “It seems to me that this Russian shithead [Timerman] was sent something? Something was signed, which was on the subject of the injunctions,” he added in reference to the alerts from Interpol. “Timerman hasn’t honored some things. This is clear,” he insisted. ”He didn’t honor some things.”
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Alehi: “Argentina is no longer interested in solving those two attacks, but instead prefers to improve its economic relations with Iran”
Luis D’Elia, on the President: “She needs the Iranian government, with the Argentine government, to announce tomorrow the formation of the Truth Commission ….”
D’Elia, after meeting with Federal Planning Minister Julio De Vido: “They are willing to send people from YPF us to do business there”
Iranian envoy, George Khalil: “Uneasiness. Something was signed, which was on the subject of the injunctions. Timerman has not honored some things. This is so clear…”
In January 2011, and by order of the President, Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman met in secret with his Iranian counterpart in Syria, and when the press reported the meeting, he denied it
The next day, September 28, 2013, Timerman met with his Iranian counterpart; according to the Argentine Foreign Minister, because Tehran had requested it
Announcing and defending the memorandum with Iran, the government always insisted that it only sought to spur on “the AMIA case” and denied any trade interest
According to the official story, the memorandum was the only document that the Government negotiated with Iran; the ruling party denied it had secret annexes