Iran's standoff with the West on issues like violence in Iraq and Tehran's nuclear ambitions moved to an unlikely forum Tuesday: Interpol's general assembly.
Iranian envoys at the meeting in Morocco accused Israel and the United States of turning the international police agency into a political tool as it considers whether to put five Iranians and a Lebanese man on its most-wanted list.
Delegates in Marrakech will vote Wednesday on whether to issue "red notices" for six men allegedly linked to a 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 people - Argentina's worst terror attack.
Argentine prosecutors have accused Iranian officials of orchestrating the bombing and entrusting the Lebanon-based militant group Hezbollah with carrying it out.
If the notices are approved, "Interpol will become a toy for every country to use against another country," said Mahmoud Esfahaninejad, a legal adviser to the Iranian team.
The case injects a rare dose of geopolitical drama into the 186-nation police organization based in Lyon, France. Its main mission is to unite countries in the fight against crime on issues like drug trafficking, smuggling of people and goods, and fighting Mafia-style organizations and terror groups.
In March, Interpol's executive committee backed Argentina's request to put out red notices for the six, including a former Iranian intelligence chief and a former leader of the country's elite Revolutionary Guards.
Mohammad Ali Pakshir, another Iranian legal adviser, claimed that the United States and Israel "want Interpol to issue the red notices to be able to tell the world, 'Look, they are terrorists.'"
Iranian delegates lobbied colleagues by handing out dossiers written in several languages explaining their case. Among their arguments: Argentina's investigation was flawed, if not corrupt; some witnesses cited in that probe were themselves wanted by Interpol; Iran quickly condemned the bombings; a bilateral resolution would be better.
The delegates said the Iranians sought by Argentina are innocent.
Delegates from the United States, Argentina and Israel declined comment before the vote, with some saying they didn't want to be drawn into Iran's accusations about politicizing the issue.
Iran is already under pressure for its defiance of U.N. Security Council demands that it stop enriching uranium, a step that could lead to production of nuclear weapons. Tehran insists that program is peaceful and intended only to generate electricity.
In addition, the United States accuses Iran of sending weapons into Iraq and Afghanistan - a claim Tehran denies.
A red notice for five Iranians would put Iran on the defensive again. Such notices don't force countries to arrest or extradite suspects, and Esfahaninejad said Iranian law does not allow for the extradition of Iranian nationals.
No one has been convicted in Argentina in connection with the blast, in which a van stuffed with explosives leveled the seven-story Jewish center and shook Argentina's 200,000-strong Jewish community.
Former Iranian intelligence chief Ali Fallahian, former Revolutionary Guard chief Mohsen Rezaei and Hezbollah militant Imad Moughnieh are among the six men sought by Argentina. ( NV )