BUENOS AIRES – Argentines must not allow their country to be dragged into “conflicts that are not ours,” President Cristina Fernandez said Wednesday, hours ahead of a march in memory of the late prosecutor who accused her of trying to conceal Iranian involvement in a deadly 1994 attack on a Jewish organization in Buenos Aires.
“It is a world of interests. They want some to be subjugated and they engage in confrontation with governments, such as this one, which don’t allow anyone else to determine their agenda,” she said during a nationally broadcast speech.
Accompanied by members of her Cabinet and thousands of supporters, the president referred to the letters Argentina’s foreign ministry delivered Tuesday to the U.S. and Israeli governments expressing “concern” about tensions between Washington and Tel Aviv over ongoing nuclear talks with Iran.
In the message to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Foreign Minister Hector Timerman also reiterated Argentina’s request that the multilateral negotiations with Iran include the issue of the 1994 car-bomb blast that left 85 dead at the Buenos Aires offices of the Jewish organization AMIA.
“Do not bring to us conflicts that are not ours. Our customs and our ideals are those of a peaceful country where different ethnic groups and religions co-exist,” Fernandez said at the inauguration of a nuclear power plant in northern Buenos Aires province.
“Here we don’t aim nuclear bombs at anybody or threaten anybody with missiles,” she said. “Our nuclear science is directed toward projects such as this.”
Fernandez has cautioned against importing foreign conflicts on several occasions since late prosecutor Alberto Nisman accused her, Timerman and six other people of conspiring to cover up Iran’s alleged role in the AMIA case.
Nisman, the AMIA special prosecutor, was found fatally shot on Jan. 18, four days after unveiling the allegations against the president.
He died of a single shot to the temple, fired from a gun he had borrowed from a colleague. The investigation into the prosecutor’s “suspicious death” continues.
Fernandez made no mention in her speech of the march in Nisman’s memory set for later Wednesday in the capital.
The president, who will leave office in December after two terms, told her supporters they need to work hard this year to elect a successor who shares her approach to government.
“In 2015 we have to guarantee that the one who leads has the same ideas. It is the best legacy we should leave,” Fernandez said.
Nisman’s accusation against Fernandez, now taken up by prosecutor Gerardo Pollicita, cites the Memorandum of Understanding her administration signed with Iran in 2013 to facilitate the AMIA investigation as the principal instrument of the purported cover-up.
The late prosecutor said that intercepts of telephone calls among some of the prospective defendants – though not Fernandez or Timerman – showed the outlines of a plan for Argentina to get Interpol to rescind the red notices the international police agency had issued for the arrest of Iranians accused in the AMIA bombing.
In exchange, according to Nisman, Iran was supposed to sell oil to Argentina.
The Fernandez administration has pointed out that no part of the ostensible conspiracy ever came to fruition, and the man who headed Interpol for 15 years until last November rebutted Nisman’s key accusation.
“I can say with 100 percent certainty, not a scintilla of doubt, that Foreign Minister Timerman and the Argentine government have been steadfast, persistent and unwavering that the Interpol’s red notices be issued, remain in effect and not be suspend or removed,” Ronald K. Noble said last month.
Many in the Argentine Jewish community believe the AMIA bombing was ordered by Iran and carried out by Tehran’s Hezbollah allies.
Both the Iranian government and the Lebanese militia group deny any involvement and the accusation relies heavily on information provided by the CIA and Israel’s Mossad spy agency.
Prosecutors have yet to secure a single conviction in the case.
In September 2004, 22 people accused in the bombing were acquitted after a process plagued with delays, irregularities and tales of witnesses’ being paid for their testimony.