Israel on Wednesday urged the international community to condemn the appointment to Iran’s new cabinet of a “criminal” wanted by Interpol over his alleged role in the 1994 bombing of a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires.
In a statement reacting to the newly announced composition of Iran’s cabinet crafted by hardline President Ebrahim Raisi, the Foreign Ministry called the tapping of Gen. Ahmad Vahidi as interior minister a “shameful” choice.
Vahidi is a former defense minister blacklisted by the US in 2010. He was the head of the Revolutionary Guards’ international operations arm, known as the Quds Force, at the time of the bombing of the AMIA Jewish Center in Argentina’s capital. His name appeared on an Interpol “red notice” list regarding the attack on the AMIA building.
The AMIA (Argentine Israelite Mutual Association) bombing, carried out by a Lebanese suicide bomber who drove a car bomb at the multistory building, killed 85 people and wounded hundreds. The bomber was subsequently identified as Ibrahim Hussein Berro, an operative of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terror group, and he was allegedly assisted by other Hezbollah and Iranian operatives.
The Foreign Ministry also took the opportunity to reiterate its characterization of Raisi as the “butcher from Tehran,” noting that he was responsible for putting to death thousands of Iranian dissidents when he served as head of the country’s judiciary.
“This is the face of the new terror government in Iran,” the ministry said, adding that its ministers “are responsible for killing people around the world.”
Raisi also nominated hardline career diplomat Hossein Amirabdollahian to the crucial post of foreign minister, as Iran and the US seek to resuscitate Tehran’s landmark nuclear deal with world powers.
Amirabdollahian, 56, has served in a range of administrations over the decades. He was deputy foreign minister for Arab and African affairs under former populist hardline president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, known in the West for his Holocaust denial and disputed reelection in 2009.
According to Reuters, Amirabdollahian is an avowed anti-Westerner believed to have close relations with the Hezbollah terrorist group in Lebanon as well as Iran’s Revolutionary Guards force.
The parties to the nuclear accord have met in Vienna for months to try to revive the deal. The last round of talks ended in June with no date set for their resumption. Raisi has promised that his administration will focus on lifting sanctions that have clobbered Iran’s already ailing economy.
The Iranian cabinet list, which offered few surprises, must still be confirmed by he country’s parliament. The supreme leader also typically weighs in on picking officials for the most sensitive positions, such as foreign minister.
Javad Owji, 54, a longtime official in the country’s vital oil and gas sector, was nominated as oil minister. Raisi picked Rostam Ghasemi, a former oil minister under Ahmadinejad, as the minister for roads and urbanization. The list named Gen. Mohammad Reza Ashtiani, a former deputy chief of staff of the armed forces, as defense minister.