The U.S. State Department said this week it will reevaluate a recent report in which it downplayed Iran's links to terrorism in Latin America. But don't expect an immediate change in U.S. policy.
Judging from what I'm told by senior U.S. officials, the Obama administration will continue trying not to over-dramatize this issue, even if there is mounting pressure from Congress to take a more aggressive stand on Iran's activities in Latin America.
In a letter to Sen. Mark Kirk, R-IL., dated Aug. 1, the State Department said that it has asked the U.S. intelligence community to take a new look into Iran's activities in the region in light of a 500-page report by Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman, the lead investigator into the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish center in Buenos Aires. That attack left 85 people dead and about 300 wounded.
Nisman was invited to testify in the U.S. Congress last month about Iran's influence in Latin America, but he could not attend because Argentina's government had denied him authorization.
Some Iran-watchers in Washington say that the State Department will probably reevaluate its previous assessment that Iran's clout in Latin America is waning.
"They will study the Nisman report, and they'll find a politically correct way to walk back from their previous report, and to integrate Nisman's findings," says Mark Dubowitz, executive director of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, a Washington, D.C. think tank.
My opinion: Until now, the Obama administration has tried to avoid a fight with Latin American countries over Iran, and it may want to wait for the signals coming from its new president before turning Iran's role in the region into a front-page issue.