Venezuela, Argentina and Iran were once locked in an alliance meant to provide Iran with nuclear intelligence and immunity, Argentina with cash, and Venezuela with the satisfaction of thwarting the West, according to a bombshell report by Brazilian magazine Veja.
Three former Venezuelan government officials who defected from Chavez’s regime spoke to Veja about this alleged alliance, which included a deal to get Argentina to remove the names of Iranians suspected in the deadly bombing of AMIA, a Jewish center in Buenos Aires, back in 1994, from Interpol.
Alberto Nisman, an Argentine defence attorney, had been investigating this bombing and was about to testify to Argentina’s legislature that President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner’s administration had helped cover up Iran’s hand in it before he was found dead in his apartment last month with a gunshot to the head on January 18.
Nisman alleged that the Fernandez regime engaged in the cover-up to secure an oil for grain deal with Iran (Argentina is energy poor), but Veja’s sources take it a step further. They say that late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez helped broker a deal between Argentina and Iran that secured cash for Argentina (including funds for Fernandez’s 2007 presidential run) and nuclear intelligence for Iran on top of derailing the AMIA probe.
“Not only is [the Veja report] credible, but it underscores the allegations prosecutor Nisman put forth about Iran’s longstanding desire to have Argentina restart nuclear cooperation with Iran,” Toby Dershowitz of the Foundation for Defence of Democracies told Business Insider.
Nisman believed that the AMIA bombing may have been about more than Iran’s hatred of Israel and the Jewish people. He believed that it was a punishment directed at Argentina. Back in the 1980s, Iranian nuclear scientists receieved training at Argentine nuclear plants.
Iranian nuclear scientist Ali Akbar Salehi was mentioned in Nisman’s report as part of the back channel negotiators who helped to clear the names of Iranians from Interpol. He himself spent 6 months learning about nuclear technology back in the 1980s. In 1987, Argentine scientists went to Iran to help upgrade a Tehran research reactor.
“The DOJ and other USG agencies should be concerned about who killed a prosecutor with whom it had an important relationship and whether it was aimed at silencing him and his work implicating Iran,” Dershowitz said. “Nisman’s work was akin to a canary in a coal mine and his suspicious death is a matter I hope the next attorney general and others will pursue impartially even if it comes at an inconvenient time as the P5+1 negotiate a nuclear deal with Iran.”
To Dershowitz, Nisman’s report was about more than just AMIA. It was about how Iran operates in Latin America — how it recruits, how it uses resources, how it activates sleeper cells.
According to a member of the military who says he was in the room during negotiations between Venezuela and Iran, here’s how a conversation between Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on January 13th, 2007 went down (via Veja):
Ahmadinejad – It’s a matter of life or death. I need you to help me broker a deal with Argentina to help my country’s nuclear program. We Argentina to share its nuclear technology. Without their collaboration it would be impossible to advance our nuclear program.
Chávez – Very quickly, I will do that Comrade.
Ahmadinejad – Don’t worry about what it costs. Iran will have all the money necessary to convince Argentines… I need you to convince Argentina to continue to insisting that Interpol take Iranian officials off their list.
Chávez – I will personally take charge of this.
In order to sweeten the deal for Argentina, Venezuela allegedly bought Argentine $US1.8 billion worth of Argentine bonds 2007 and $US6 billion worth in 2008. Remember that Argentina has been a pariah of international markets since it defaulted in 2002. The Kirchners (Cristina and her husband, late-president Nestor) both thanked Venezuela for these purchases publicly.
Also in that January 13th, 2007 Ahmadinejad and Chavez allegedly hatched the plan for “aeroterror,” as Chavistas came to call it. It was a flight from Caracas to Damascus to Tehran that was made twice a month. It flew from Caracas carrying cocaine to be distributed Hezbollah in Damascus and sold. The plane then went to Tehran carrying Venezuelan passports and other documents that helped Iranian terrorists travel around the world undetected.
What makes this story all the more bizarre is that the woman who was allegedly handling the Argentine side of negotiations was former Defence Minsiter Nilda Garre. She is currently Argentina’s ambassador to the Organisation of American States.
Veja’s sources say that she had a sexual relationship with Chavez.
“It was something along the lines of ’50 Shades of Grey’,” said the former Venezuelan official. He added that when they were together all of Miraflores (Venezuela’s presidential palace) could hear it.
“I can not say that the Argentine government gave nuclear secrets, but I know it received much by legal means (debt securities) and illegal (bags of money) in exchange for some valuable asset to the Iranians. “
Another former Chavista said: “In Argentina, the holder of secrets is the former ambassador Garre.”
On Wednesday the House Foreign Affairs Committee is having a meeting — this should probably come up.