Uruguay eyeing Israeli help on security in wake of suspected bombing try

Marcy Oster

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (JTA) — Uruguay said it has “opened the door” to Israel’s help on security following a suspected bombing attempt near Israel’s embassy in which Israel implicated Iran.

The South American country’s foreign affairs and interior ministries each released a statement on Friday to that effect while also saying that an Iranian diplomat was not expelled over the suspected bombing, contrary to reports. The statement also said that Uruguay’s government pledged to protect the Israeli Embassy in Montevideo, the capital, and the Jewish community.

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Although there was no evidence linking the diplomat to an empty suitcase discovered near the embassy, the statements said, “the situation was extremely worrying.”

The statements followed a day after rumors and unconfirmed reports of the diplomat’s expulsion after the suitcase was discovered in the area on Nov. 24. Israeli officials provided a video to Uruguayan officials of the area showing a car with Iranian diplomatic license plates.

The Iranian ambassador was summoned to Uruguay’s foreign ministry on Dec. 10. The ministry later said that “the coincidence of the presence of the Iranian official just a few dozen meters from the briefcase was unfortunate and inadmissible” and that the Uruguayan government would adopt “more severe measures should similar circumstances arise in the future.”

Ministers from the foreign affairs and interior ministries said that “immediate help was requested to prevent and protect the Embassy of Israel, its officers and the Jewish community in Uruguay. Also, a door was opened to Israeli cooperation on security. Both ministers allowed the visit of Israeli experts to deepen the investigation.”

The Iranian diplomat, Ahmad Sanad Gol, left Uruguay on Dec. 7, before any Uruguayan punishment, and according to Iranian sources “because he completed his duty.”

The statement stressed that although Uruguay did not expel a diplomat, the ministries of foreign affairs and interior will take steps steps “to ensure national security” and also to “protect diplomatic missions.”

On Jan. 8, Uruguayan police detonated an explosive device also near the Israeli Embassy. The head of the local bomb squad, Alfredo Larramendi, told reporters that the device was placed there to “measure police response and times of evacuation.”