The revelations, should they prove true, are unlikely to affect the outcome of the trial, currently under way in the Netherlands, of two Libyan intelligence agents accused of carrying out the bombing. "The trial is to determine whether or not these two guys actually carried out the attack," says TIME correspondent William Dowell. "It was never going to deal with the question of on whose behalf they might have acted. It had been suspected for a long time that the Libyans might have been acting for someone else, and Iran had always been the prime suspect." Behbahani suggested that the attack was a retaliation for the mistaken shooting down by a U.S. warship of an Iranian airliner earlier in 1988. "The question remains whether he'll be able to prove these allegations," says Dowell. "There's always the question of whether he's selling that story to make himself more attractive to the U.S. in his quest for asylum here."
Behbahani certainly used the attention from "60 Minutes" to throw in a few teasers about being able to prove Iranian involvement in everything from the Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 American troops to a 1994 attack on a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. While they're unlikely to affect the trial, Behbahani's allegations, if substantiated, may have some impact on moves to break the diplomatic ice between Washington and Tehran. "The U.S. will certainly want to pursue these leads," says Dowell. "But even if they prove true, they're unlikely to alter the fact that the U.S. wants better relations with Iran and wants the moderates there to succeed."