Argentina bomb charges a US-Zionist plot -Iran

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TEHRAN, Nov 11 (Reuters) Iran said today an international arrest warrant for nine Iranian officials ordered by an Argentinian judge for the bombing of a Jewish centre in Buenos Aires was part of a Zionist, US plot against Iran.

Argentine federal Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral on Thursday ordered a warrant for the arrest of former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and eight others on charges of masterminding the July 18, 1994 attack.

A truck laden with explosives levelled the seven-storey Argentine Israeli Mutual Association (AMIA) building, a symbol of the country's Jewish community -- Latin America's largest. Eighty-five people were killed and more than 200 wounded.

Tehran denies any involvement.

''This ruling has no legal basis and the accusations are baseless too,'' state television quoted Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini as saying.

''The recent measure is a Zionist-American conspiracy aimed at weakening Iran in the nuclear issue and covering up the failure of the Zionist regime in its war against Lebanon,'' he said.

The United States is leading Western efforts to impose United Nations sanctions on Iran for its failure to scale back its nuclear work which Washington and European powers believe is part of a programme to develop an atomic bomb.

Israel and the United States accuse Iran of supplying the missiles Lebanon's Hezbollah used to bombard Israeli cities in its 54-day war this year, and also funding the Shi'ite militia.

Tehran says it offers only moral support.

No one has been convicted of carrying out the 1994 attack in Buenos Aires despite a lengthy probe beset by irregularities, but Argentine, Israeli and U.S. officials have long blamed the bombing on Hezbollah guerrillas backed by Iran.

In court documents, Argentine prosecutors say the AMIA attack could have been tied to Argentina's decision to stop providing Iran with nuclear technology and materials.

Rafsanjani was president from 1989 to 1997 and remains a powerful figure who has held most of Iran's top posts.

Several former Rafsanjani aides were also being sought, including former Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahian, former Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Velayati and former Commander of the Revolutionary Guards Mohsen Rezai, plus three other Iranian embassy officials in Buenos Aires at the time of the bombing.


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