Exclusive: Uruguay Expels Iranian Envoy Suspected of Helping Place Bomb Near Israeli Embassy

Senior official in Jerusalem says Uruguay updated Israel on the incident, but chose to keep a low profile concerning the affair.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
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Security forces stand guard near Montevideo's World Trade Centre, January 8, 2015.
Security forces stand guard near Montevideo's World Trade Centre, January 8, 2015.Credit: AFP
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

Uruguay expelled a senior diplomat in Iran’s embassy in Montevideo two weeks ago, following suspicions that he was involved in placing an explosive device near the Israeli embassy in early January, according to senior sources in Jerusalem.

Investigations carried out by Uruguay’s intelligence services after the discovery of the device yielded information pointing to a possible involvement of someone at the Iranian embassy. The Uruguayan government turned to Iran’s government for information and after consultations between the two, it was decided to expel one of the senior diplomats at Iran’s embassy.

A senior official in Jerusalem said Uruguay subsequently updated Israel regarding the incident. However, it decided to keep a low profile concerning the affair and did not publicize the diplomat’s expulsion.

On January 8 there was a small explosion a few dozen meters from a trade center building in Montevideo, on the ninth floor of which the Israeli embassy is located. Police forces arrived and searched the area, finding a small device which had only partly detonated. The building was evacuated and the device neutralized.

Even though the device was far from the building, officials in Jerusalem believe it was an attempt to harm the embassy or explore its security preparedness.

Alertness at Israeli embassies has been raised to maximal levels since the assassination of Hezbollah’s Jihad Mughniyeh and an Iranian general two weeks ago, an attack attributed to Israel. It is believed that retaliation might come in an attempt to attack an Israeli embassy overseas.

Iran and Hezbollah have a well-established terrorist infrastructure in South America, based on Shi’ite Lebanese migrants. This infrastructure carried out the two attacks in Buenos Aires in the 1990s, in which more than 100 people died. Part of this infrastructure involves large Iranian embassies in South America collecting intelligence for such attacks.

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