Iran Making Push into Nicaragua

[San Antonio Express-News] Todd Bensman - As part of a new partnership with Nicaragua's Sandinista President Daniel Ortega, Iran and its Venezuelan allies plan to help finance a $350 million deep-water port at Monkey Point on the Caribbean shore, and then plow a connecting "dry canal" corridor of pipelines, rails and highways across the country to the Pacific Ocean. Iran recently established an embassy in Nicaragua. What worries State Department officials, former national security officials, and counterterrorism researchers is that Iran could stage strikes on American or allied interests from Nicaragua, deploying the Iranian terrorist group Hizbullah and Revolutionary Guard operatives already in Latin America. Few Nicaragua observers believe Iran has any obvious need for trade ties with one of Latin America's poorest countries. "They use their embassies to smuggle in weapons. They used them to develop and execute plans," said Oliver "Buck" Revell, who served as associate deputy director over FBI intelligence and international affairs. "Diplomats have immunity coming and going. It is a protected center for both espionage and, on occasion, for specific operations. So an embassy in Managua is definitely an area that will be of concern to our national security apparatus." Front and center on many minds is Argentina's contention that Iran, using its embassy as cover, orchestrated two Hizbullah bombings of Israeli and Jewish community targets in Buenos Aires in the early 1990s.

2007-12-20 01:00:00

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