US Panel Passes Bill on Iran-Latin America Links

WASHINGTON — A US House of Representatives subcommittee passed a bill Thursday requiring the State Department to report to Congress on Iran's activities in Latin America.

The bill, which was approved by a voice vote in the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on terrorism, was pushed by Republicans and some Democrats as a signal of concern over Iran's links in the region.

The bill says Iran has doubled the number of embassies it has in Latin America, from five in 2005 to 11 currently, and recalls the 1994 bombing of a Jewish center in Buenos Aires, allegedly backed by Iran, that killed 85 people.

It also referred to an alleged plot by Iran to recruit Mexican drug cartel killers to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told the Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday there was insufficient evidence linking either Iran or the Shiite militia group Hezbollah to drug cartels in the region.

If the "Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act" is passed by the full Congress, the State Department would have 180 days to report to Congress on Iran's activities in Latin America.






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