Buenos Aires ( Associated Press) – Israel on Thursday praised Argentina for keeping a Venezuelan plane that contained an Iranian crew, saying the flight showed Tehran was trying to expand its influence in South America. doing.
Washington also clarified that it is keeping a close eye on the investigation of the Boeing 747, which was loaded with automotive parts and raised questions because its 19 crew is an unusually large number for a cargo plane.
In a statement, the Israeli embassy commended the “rapid action” by the Argentine authorities, who “identified in real time the potential threat” posed by the plane, which has been stationed at Argentina’s main airport outside Buenos Aires since June 6. has gone.
The embassy said Israel is “particularly concerned” about Iranian airlines dedicated to arms smuggling and the transfer of people and equipment to the Quds Force, which are subject to sanctions by the United States for engaging in terrorist activities. are under.
“Recent events provide evidence that the Islamic Republic of Iran, through the Revolutionary Guard and the Quds Force, continues to consolidate its influence around the world, including South America, as a base for terrorist actions in the continent.” Embassy added.
The top US diplomat in Argentina also commented on the matter.
“We are following the judicial and law enforcement investigations into the crew and aircraft with great interest and thank the investigation efforts of the Argentine authorities,” US Ambassador Mark Stanley said in a statement shared with local media. “
Argentine authorities have seized the passports of five Iranians and 14 Venezuelan crew members on board the plane, operated by Venezuela’s state-owned Embrasur Line, a subsidiary of Convisa, which is under US sanctions. .
Before being sold to Embrasure a year earlier, the aircraft was owned by Iran’s Mahan Air, which was approved by the US government for allegedly aiding the Quds Force and terrorist activities.
Law enforcement offices on Tuesday searched the hotel where the crew members were staying under orders from Federal Judge Federico Villena, who is investigating the crew.
Argentine officials say they have not found any irregularities in the crew.
The plane reportedly loaded motor vehicle parts in Mexico and stopped in Venezuela before reaching Argentina.
Paraguay Interior Minister Federico González told a local radio station on Tuesday that the large crew had previously raised suspicions in Paraguay, where the plane landed last month in Ciudad del Este, near the borders of Argentina and Brazil. He said the plane was on May 13-16,
Gonzalez said Paraguay had alerted intelligence agencies in the region about the plane and its crew.
Argentina suffered two terrorist attacks in its capital, for which judicial investigators have blamed Iran – an explosion at the Israeli embassy in 1992 and a fatal bombing of a Jewish organization in 1994. Iran has denied any involvement.