BUENOS AIRES — A presidential adviser said Saturday that he sent 154 tons of beef to Iraq through Iran in violation of Argentina's pledge to honor the U.N. trade embargo.
The private shipment was paid for by Iraq and flown to Iran in two Boeing 727 jets during the past 15 days, said the official, Alberto Samid, responding to newspaper reports. The Argentine news agency Diario y Noticias quoted him as saying the beef was to be shipped by land into Iraq.
"I did it because I have family there, because I know there are hungry children . . . hungry old people . . . (and) hungry women who have nothing to do with the problem," said Samid, also a parliamentarian of the governing Peronist Party.
President Carlos Saul Menem was in the northwestern state of La Rioja and could not immediately be reached for comment.
Argentina has pledged to honor the U.N. trade embargo, and Menem has promised two warships to join an international naval force enforcing the embargo. Last week, Agriculture Secretary Felipe Sola said wheat sales to Iraq were cut off and the government took steps to assure that grain sold to Iran would not go to Iraq.
Before the cutoff, Argentina had sold 4 million tons of wheat a year to Iraq and worked on joint scientific projects that included the development of the medium-range Condor missile.
Samid called Argentina's support for the gulf force "an error of our foreign policy."