Ya’alon: Iran building terror infrastructure to strike US

Defense minister warns of danger posed by Iran’s terror cells in Central and South America, and of the regime’s global aspirations

Mitch Ginsburg is the former Times of Israel military correspondent.

Ya'alon, right, with Molina in Jerusalem on Monday (Photo credit: Ariel Hermoni/ Ministry of Defense)
Ya'alon, right, with Molina in Jerusalem on Monday (Photo credit: Ariel Hermoni/ Ministry of Defense)

Iran has built an infrastructure of terror in Central and South America in order, among other goals, to target Israelis and Jews there and have a base from which to attack the US, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Monday.

Ya’alon, meeting with Guatemalan President Otto Fernando Perez Molina, himself a former director of military intelligence, warned that Iran, which operates the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah as a proxy, was using diplomatic cover to spread terror in the Western Hemisphere.

“The Iranians use diplomatic mail [pouches] in order to transport bombs and weapons, and we know that there are states in South America, like Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia, where the Iranian have terror bases, both in the embassies and among the local Shiite Muslim populations,” Ya’alon said.

“They built this infrastructure for the eventuality that they will have to act against Jews, Israelis or Israeli interests, but it is important to them as an infrastructure that enables them to act within the United States,” he added.

Ya’alon cited a the recent foiling of an Iranian plan to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, and said the country was using drug smuggling routes to sneak weapons into the US.

The comments came amid a US détente with Iran that led, in November, to an interim deal that paused but did not disable the country’s nuclear program. The US and Israel disagree both on the terms of a permanent agreement and the nature and significance of Iran’s recent warming to the West.

Meeting with Molina earlier in the day, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for the international community to clamp down on Iran’s military and nuclear capabilities, reiterating a demand he had made the night before in an address to the Saban Forum in Washington.

“Here’s what this means: no enrichment, no centrifuges, no heavy water reactor, no weapons program, no ballistic missiles and a change in Iran’s policies — no genocide against Israel, no terrorist support, no undermining of regimes in the Middle East,” Netanyahu said, according to a statement from his office.

Molina told Netanyahu that his country shared concerns over Iran’s nuclear program.

“It is a tradition for Guatemala, we have always been in favor of nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, both in Latin America as well as in the rest of the world, and we hope that this concern that we can see today, which is a great threat to the State of Israel, will find a resolution as soon as possible,” he said, according to the statement.

Ya’alon, who has been in lockstep with Netanyahu on Iran, said that the global terror infrastructure is indicative of the regime’s aspirations. The regime, he said, is willing to go to great lengths in order to spread the Islamic revolution around the world. In the Middle East, he said, Iran supports whoever seeks to harm Israel or the West.

“Their goal is regional and global hegemony, today through terror and subversiveness. That’s why they want a nuclear bomb, both in order to protect the regime and as a nuclear security policy that will allow them to accelerate their diplomatic subversiveness,” he said. “This is a threat to the stability of the world, and therefore we insist that one way or another it’s impermissible for them to get the bomb.”

Stuart WIner contributed to this report.

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