On My Mind: Nisman’s legacy

Nisman may have paid with his life for not trusting Iran, as well as for suggesting a sinister collusion between his own government and Iran’s to protect those responsible for the AMIA attack.

Buenos Aires protesters demand justice amid allegations of Argentina-Iran cover-up (photo credit: screenshot)
Buenos Aires protesters demand justice amid allegations of Argentina-Iran cover-up
(photo credit: screenshot)
The US and five other world powers, together comprising the P5+1, are engaged in what are billed as a final round of negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program. Can Iran be trusted to abide by any deal that they reach? If the findings of the late Alberto Nisman are taken with the seriousness they deserve, the answer would be an emphatic “no.” Nisman, an Argentine prosecutor, fingered Tehran for carrying out the most dreadful terrorist attack in the history of his country, the bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in July 1994.
Nisman’s scrupulous investigation, begun in 2005, found that Iran was responsible for the devastating attack that leveled the AMIA building, killed 85 and wounded over 300. Interpol accepted Nisman’s findings, and in 2007 issued red notices for five Iranian officials and one Lebanese Hezbollah operative.
As Nisman pursued the case against Iran for AMIA, world powers went after Iran’s nuclear program.
While Tehran insisted that it was intended for peaceful purposes, there was good reason to suspect the goal was nuclear weapons. In 2006, a frustrated International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) referred Iran to the UN Security Council, which passed its first resolution imposing economic sanctions. Over the following eight years, the Security Council adopted several more sanctions resolutions, the US imposed increasingly punishing sanctions of its own, and the EU not only joined in the sanctions but also suspended the purchase of Iranian oil.
Undeterred, Iran methodically continued to pursue enrichment capabilities, installed thousands of centrifuges, and completed construction of additional nuclear facilities, all the while refusing to fully comply with IAEA demands for full disclosure of any military dimensions to its nuclear program.
Nisman, putting the pieces together, recognized that Iran’s aggressive ambitions extended beyond Argentina’s Jewish community.
“The AMIA bombing did not constitute an isolated event,” Nisman wrote in an extensive 2013 report on Iran’s terror operations in Latin America.
The AMIA bombing must be “understood as part of a larger effort by Iran to infiltrate Latin America.”
Uruguay’s expulsion last month of an Iranian diplomat for his involvement in placing a bomb near the Israeli Embassy in Montevideo confirmed Nisman’s assessment. “I told you so,” Nisman would have said – had he not been found dead in his apartment with a gunshot to the head on January 18.
Nisman had traced the roots of Iran’s global terror plan to a 1982 seminar in Tehran for Muslim leaders from around the world that, he said, was “a turning point in the regime’s policy for exporting the revolution, including the use of violence and terrorism.” Iranian terrorists have struck in recent years in Bulgaria, India, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, while additional plots were thankfully thwarted in Azerbaijan, Cyprus and Thailand.
The US designated Iran a state sponsor of terrorism as early as 1984, and the growing list of terrorist incidents committed by Iran and its terrorist protégé, Hezbollah, confirmed that the theocratic leadership was determined to use violence to further its ambitions. “Iran and Hezbollah’s terrorist activity has reached a tempo unseen since the 1990s,” the US State Department noted in its 2013 terrorism report.
The P5+1, meanwhile, has focused exclusively on Iran’s nuclear program. Other obvious Iranian misdeeds, from active backing of terrorism worldwide to meddling in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and other regional neighbors, have not been addressed in the nuclear talks, though they are also clear threats to regional and global security.
“We have to be very careful because we know who we are negotiating with,” IAEA director Yukiya Amano said in an interview with Israel Radio on Friday. Amano has long been skeptical about the “possible military dimensions” of the Iranian program, and for good reason.
Parchin, a suspect Iranian nuclear weapons research facility, remains off-limits to IAEA inspectors.
With a March deadline for a “framework agreement” with the P5+1 looming, Amano is rightly concerned that the US is so determined to close a deal with Iran that IAEA concerns may be tabled.
Nisman may have paid with his life for not trusting Iran, as well as for suggesting a sinister collusion between his own government and Iran’s designed to protect those responsible for the AMIA attack. The US and the other P5+1 countries would do well to treat any Iranian proposals with the highest degree of skepticism before any deal is concluded that still leaves wiggle room for the development of nuclear weapons.
The writer is the American Jewish Committee’s director of media relations.