INU- The Iranian regime has an 'extensive intelligence and terrorist network' in Latin America that poses a grave threat to America's national security, a leading US congresswoman has declared.
Florida representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, chair of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, also blamed President Barack Obama for failing to hold oppressive regimes to account for human rights violations, constitutional violations, and a breakdown of the rule of law in the region.
And she accused the ALBA nations of Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Bolivia and Argentina of undermining US policy for the region by embracing the Iranian regime.
She said in a statement to the subcommittee: "I came into Congress in 1989 and was here nineteen years ago when the AMIA attack occurred in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 1994.
"Fast forward to today and the Iranian presence in Latin America is on the rise and poses a greater threat to our national security.
"Two months ago the Special Prosecutor for AMIA, Alberto Nisman, released a 500 page report citing extensive evidence of Iran’s intelligence and terrorist network alive and well in various Latin American nations.
"This report reaffirmed that Iran continues to use its diplomatic and cultural centers as a facade to infiltrate the region."
She said the problem should also be viewed through the 'prism of the Obama administration’s failed policies in Latin America'.
She added: "Time and again we have seen the Obama administration fail to hold oppressive regimes accountable for the human rights violations, constitutional violations, and a breakdown of rule of law in the region.
"The ALBA nations of Venezuela, Nicaragua, Ecuador, and Bolivia, and to a certain extent now sadly Argentina, continue to undermine U.S. efforts in the region and it is not surprising that those same countries have opened their arms to embrace the Iranian regime."
She quoted the US Ambassador to the United nations John Bolton as saying this week: "The largest Iranian diplomatic facility in the world is in Caracas, Venezuela, because they are laundering their money through the Venezuelan banks."
Ms Ros-Lehtinen said: "In order for the Obama administration to get serious about this issue, it cannot ignore the close ties between Venezuela and Iran.
"But it has become abundantly clear that the Administration continues to put politics over national security.
"To admit that there is a problem in the Hemisphere regarding Iran, the Administration would first have to put the blame on the Venezuelan regime - the same regime that it continues to attempt to normalize relations with."