Argentina's divisive 2013 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Iran was finally dropped became after Argentine Federal Judges Juan Carlos Gemignani and Angela Ledesma accepted a request filed by the president Mauricio Macri administration Justice Ministry to drop the Executive’s appeal to the Federal Cassation Court.
Macri's government’s first move at the courthouse was to drop the appeal filed by the Kirchnerite administration against the ruling that declared the agreement sealed with Tehran, unconstitutional in May last year. There has been controversy surrounding the MOU signed by former president Cristina Fernandez administration in what was described as an effort to unlock the investigation into the 1994 attack on the AMIA Jewish community centre.
The MOU became even more controversial earlier this year, when AMIA special prosecutor Alberto Nisman accused the Cristina Fernandez administration of using the agreement as a Trojan horse to whitewash the alleged involvement of Iran in the 1994 bombing that killed 85 people — the worst terrorist attack in Argentina's history.
During the electoral campaign, President Macri vowed to repeal the MOU, but Justice Minister German Garavano found a simpler way that also prevented the issue from reaching Congress, where the ruling centre-right coalition Let’s Change (Cambiemos) lacks the necessary votes to nullify a treaty that had been approved by the two houses of Congress.
The MOU gave Federal Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral the green light to travel to Tehran to question five alleged masterminds of the bombing. It also ordered the creation of a truth commission to probe the attack.
The agreement was challenged by the DAIA and AMIA Jewish community organizations, which have close ties to Macri’s PRO. Nisman, as well as AMIA and DAIA, called on the courts to declare the MOU unconstitutional. In 2013, Canicoba Corral confirmed that the MOU was constitutional, but in May, 2014, the First Division of the Federal Criminal Appeals Court declared it unconstitutional.
Former justice minister Julio Alak and former Foreign minister Hector Timerman filed an appeal before the Federal Cassation Court, which fell apart as a result of the MOU.
Earlier this month an Argentine journalist revealed two recordings in which former foreign minister Timerman is heard admitting that Iran “planted the bombs” that demolished the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in 1994.
The revelations are in a book by Santoro, Nisman Must Die, and refer to an incident when Timerman was speaking with the president of a local Jewish community Guillermo Burger in 2012, when negotiations with Iran over its responsibility for the terrorist act had just begun.
“Timerman pressured members of the AMIA not to release a statement at the start of negotiations with Iran.” The negotiation was a very dramatic event, Santoro explained, because then President Cristina Fernandez was officially committed to a policy of “we don’t negotiate with terrorists.”
“And here’s Timerman, in a conversation, saying he is convinced that it was the Iranians who planted the bomb,” said Santoro, adding, “Imagine the irony—so he applied pressure on the Jewish community, in both recordings,” not to mention his words in public, suggesting it would render the talks with the Iranians ineffective”.
At one point on the tape, after Burger argued that Iran is not a reliable partner in negotiations, Timerman explodes, “Who do you think we’re negotiating with, Switzerland?”